The day may start out well, when we think the plan we have outlined for the various tasks ahead will come to fruition, and the sun is even shining - then in an instant, everything so well-planned can erupt into chaos. As I watched the news last night for a couple of hours, the big deal was a fire at a recycling plant very near our airport. A very windy day was creating a huge spread of this flame from the original piles of recyclables into some others way down the yard and even possibly to neighboring businesses. The cloud of jet black smoke bellowed into the sky and was seen for miles and miles. Trust me on this - those guys and gals who worked at that plant didn't "plan" to see their day end that way! Nor did the rush hour commuters attempting to get to the polling places on election day expect to be in a quagmire of long lines at the polls due to someone in government thinking we could reduce our polling places to 1/3 the number we normally have. We just don't know what our day may hold, but we plan nonetheless. The failure we may have is in not actually asking God for the wisdom we need in the planning process!
If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused. (James 1:5-8 VOICE)
I think many of us fall into the trap of complacency where we simply plan, knowing God watches over our lives, and totally forgetting we need to seek his will for those plans. It is like we are on auto-pilot up until the point something goes wrong. When the fire begins to rage out of control, we turn to God! Am I the only one ever caught in this cycle of acting first, seeking wisdom second? All the wisdom we need for the journey isn't always available to us as we take our first step out the door in the morning - there will be things which despite our "good planning" will mount up in a hurry like the raging fire at the recycling plant! What might have seemed "ordinary" or "routine" to begin with erupts into "extraordinary" and "colossal" before the day is over.
Whenever we set out on our own, without seeking God's wisdom to at least assure us we are on the right path, we run the risk of being "stranded at sea" - like a ship whose turbines suddenly stop working and the seas are able to take it where they will simply by the pull and sway of their currents. I don't want us to lose sight of what James says to us here - we are to ask for God's wisdom, not just for the blessing of our already "cemented" plans! A builder doesn't just lay a foundation, put in all the plumbing, wiring, and the like, then go to the city for approval to build. He lays out his plans, takes them to the offices of those who oversee the approval of these plans, and sometimes he walks away with recommendations on changes which need to be made before he ever breaks ground. Those simple changes may make the difference between a whole lot of rework and the project finishing without added expense or time investment, though. He does well to follow the process!
There are times when we lunge ahead, thinking we are motivated by a single-minded commitment to God, but in fact, we are motivated by some other commitment to self or others. James says we can be assured of wisdom when we place our commitment on the right focus - God first, the plans second, and then the actions will follow. Will they always go smoothly? Nope. Will there be occasional bumps along the way and even a little "rework"? Probably. Then why ask? When we ask, we are centering ourselves on the one who knows the end from the beginning - even the places where a little "rework" will become necessary. The rework was not likely part of what he would have designed for us, but he knew we'd be good up to a certain spot in the journey, then we'd encounter some difficult spots. When we are in the midst of those "spots", what we determine to do in those moments makes all the difference in just how far off-course we allow ourselves to get. When we get waylayed by life's issues, we can either be set adrift, or we can send out the SOS to God.
The issue is that we don't live by the standard or routine of relying solely upon the SOS! We will need less and less rescuing when we seek the right course to take in the first place and allow him to prepare us for the events of the journey well in advance of us ever facing those events! Just sayin!