As a classic first-born, and perhaps a slightly type-A, personality I will usually fight you for the last word. It’s ingrained in my DNA. I have been this way since I was a little girl. Becoming a wife and mother has only intensified this gene inside me. When I am downright honest, it’s a fight for control. To have the last word in a “conversation” leaves me feeling like my point was presented, heard, and accepted. At times this has been a blessing and strength of mine. It has helped me lead my children to a noble cause, and helped me achieve many of the things in life I have always dreamed of doing. Yet many times, this struggle has caused more trouble than I had anticipated.
One of my favorite people in the Bible has a lot to say about this topic. The disciple James was full of so much wisdom and practical guidance. He was truly a man after God’s own heart. In the fourth chapter of the book of James we are given some pretty forthright and bold instructions about seeking to “have the last word” in life.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. “
We like to make big plans for our life, don’t we? Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t make plans and goals. But we must consider God’s role in all of our plans – big and small.
Verse 14 brings us head on into the realization that we are not in control. Not even a little bit. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, next year, or even in the next 5 minutes. Our illusion of control is met head on with the true reality of this life – we are not sovereign.
Our illusion of control is met head on with the true reality of this life – we are not sovereign.
Too easily I can accept that God controls the big parts of my life – Where will I live? Will I get cancer? Will my children live a long life? Yet somehow, I still like to believe I control the macro level of life – the small day in and day out choices and actions. Do I really consider God’s will in my macro level decisions and actions? Isn’t He in control of that as well? If I believe His Word then I must also disarm my illusion of control and having the “final word” on things in my life. He controls it all – big and small.
Verse 15 says “if it is the Lord’s will . . .” This turning loose of control and allowing God to lead the way is not my first instinct. Society teaches us to be leaders. To take charge of our lives and follow our hearts. But this is not really what James is instructing us to do. He is saying we should be followers of Christ. In order to be a follower, I cannot be the leader. When I demand to have the final word, and refuse to give up my leader role I am assigning Jesus the role of my co-pilot. Jesus did not die on the cross to be my co-pilot! He came to sit in the driver’s seat so that I may follow Him into the gates of Heaven.
In verses 16-17 James comes down pretty hard on us. He is speaking to God’s people in this letter. He is writing to the church. This part is for us and should not be missed.
“16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. “
This is a heavy charge James brings to us, but it is one we must not ignore. So often in today’s world we view leaders as the strong, faithful members of our society. James challenges us in this – it takes tremendous faith to follow. To walk where the ground is unsteady and the path is hard to see. To put on foot in front of the other not knowing where you are headed. To love our enemies, to give of our time and resources, to say no when we want to say yes, and to sacrifice just because God is nudging us to do so . . .
This is what He has called us to. And it requires us to live dependently on the One who wills it all into existence. It absolutely requires us to simply follow Him and allow the cross to have the final word.
When I finally stop fighting to get my last word in, I realize what a blessing it is that Jesus has the final word in my life. At the end of my life, and the end of each day, I can rest knowing that the cross of Calvary has the final word in my life. Not worry. Not the balance of my checkbook. Not my past. Not my failures. Not my children. Not my husband. Nothing but the blood of Jesus has the final word about me. And you know the best part? He says I am loved unconditionally and wholly His! And that my friends, is so much better than what my final word could ever be.
May I challenge you today? Over the next week take 90 seconds each morning when you wake up to ask God this question.
“God, what do you want me to think and do about __________?” You fill in the blank with whatever you have on your agenda and mind for that day. I believe if you will take the time to ask this question and then be still enough to listen for His answer you will be amazed at how great it is to simply follow.
If you accept my challenge please let me know by commenting below so I can be praying for you today!
So much fun, reading when other people see themselves as imperfect. I struggled for eons, as a home school mom, to be the best I could, and still — I was not perfect.
As a single mom, and a home schooler, looking back, I made some really awesome choices. My children, now grown, occasionally remind me how WRONG I was, but then they do something so amazingly beneficial to the world that they would never have done any other way that I know… I made the right choice.
Never wonder. You’re doing an amazing job, and the transparency… ROCKS! Keep it up.
Thanks Jan! So encouraging to hear that. Being a mom is tough, but is also just the greatest thing ever! I am treasuring these days of young boys but I also am so excited to see the men they will grow to be!