John Chancellor, at the age of 67, was just easing his way into retirement after 43 years in the broadcasting business as a journalist. He was seen often on the NBC Nightly News. At this point in his life, there was not a cloud in the sky. All was well, and life was good. Then he discovered he had stomach cancer. At first he was angry, and fought with God and himself. In time however, he made peace with God, and came to terms with his situation. Just before his death he made this statement, “If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans.”
What an honest, humble, and even humorous statement, one that we would do well to reflect upon as we make our plans for the next thing in life. Sometimes our talk of the future is marked by an arrogant boasting, and practical atheism. In pride, we presume we are the masters of our own fate. We forget that God alone is sovereign, life is His gift, and He governs it all (Acts 17:28; Rom. 11:33). Our plans ought therefore to be drawn in pencil, made subject to a sovereign God who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Prov. 16:9; Ps. 33:11; Eph. 1:11). Interestingly, this is the counsel that the Apostle James gives to a group of businessmen who were drawing up a plan of attack for the next year (James 4:13-17). In addressing them, James takes them to task not for their planning (which seems prudent), but for their presumptiveness and prayerlessness - failing to acknowledge God’s control over life. In all their planning there was no praying, they had failed to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this and that” (James 4:15-16). These professing Christians were acting in their business lives as practical atheists. They were boasting about a tomorrow they could not see, for who knows what will happen tomorrow (James 4:14; Prov. 27:1). They were boasting about a tomorrow they may not see, for their life is but a vapor that appears for a little time (James 4:14). James wants to see from them a greater humility before God, and recognition of the fact that success comes from Him (James 4:10; Psa. 75:6-7).
We would all do well to remember what Napoleon forgot, “Man proposes but God disposes.” Considering that God deals the cards, and holds all the aces, it would be prudent for us to do three things. First, we ought to prayerfully acknowledge God in all our ways (Prov. 3:5-6). Second, we ought to be flexible about our plans, making them subject to divine approval and alterations (Rom. 1:10; 1 Cor. 16:7). And lastly, we ought to live life to the fullest today (Psalm 118:24; Eccles. 9:9-12). In planning for an uncertain future, don’t forget to make the most of today. Live to the full every situation you believe to be the will of God. Listen! Don’t make yourself cry and God laugh over plans that you never made subject to His will.
Above all, plan to live His plan (Eph. 2:10)!