Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Words Remembered.
My dad has quite a few “sayings” that if I have heard him say once, I have likely heard them escape his lips hundreds if not thousands of times over the years. Perhaps you have the same memories of someone you listened to a lot growing up. One of the things he said and still does to this day is…”Good Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise”. Many of you may have heard that one as well, if you know my dad, you’ve probably heard it come directly from him. The funny thing is, though we say it about some plan we have made, it is actually a biblically sound statement.
There is much debate as to where the saying originated. Some say it was in a letter penned by Col. Benjamin Hawkins of North Carolina, a Continental Congress senator and general superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1796 to 1818. As the story goes he wrote this as a part of a reply upon being summoned to the nation’s capital, indicating he would indeed be there if it were at all possible. Others attribute the saying to Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson among others. There doesn’t seem to be any way of determining the actual originator with absolute certainty.
The meaning of the saying is that barring some unexpected yet completely reasonable obstruction one will do what has just been promised or stated as their intent. As I said a moment ago it is actually biblical that we would attach some caveat such as this one to promises and plans that we make.
James 4:13-15 in the New Living Translation says: Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” The obvious message here is that while we may have intentions to do one thing or another, we are actually in control of very little in comparison to what we are not in control of regarding the plans we make. God is the one in control of the vast majority of variables that might affect our plans. Creeks rising to the point of being uncross-able due to heavy rains is but one of the many things outside our control. This scripture points out that the duration of our very lives is not in our hands therefore making plans to fill time we do not yet possess more than a little presumptuous.
So, should we just stop making plans altogether? Although this would appear at first glance to be an all-too enticing idea to pass up, for those like me, who like to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’, unfortunately the answer is no, we should not stop making those pesky plans. For those of you who like to make plans (though the rest of us have no idea why it makes you happy to do so), stop fretting, making plans does not go against scripture. Note what verse 15 above says though. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” This verse is indicative of much more than the mere fact that our lives and our continued existence on this planet is in God’s hands alone. It also gives us a framework for setting the plans we do make. If the Lord wants us to, is the defining part of the statement, and outlines for us what plans should be made to begin with. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. If our plans are for things God would want, then they are permissible plans, but still should be made with the caveat that we will do those things only if He allows us to…if the creeks don’t rise.
Actually, God’s word does advise that we make plans for the future in numerous ways. Financially speaking and to make provision for our families, His word offers several instances of instruction. Proverbs 21:5 says: Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. Additionally, verse 20 of that same chapter tells us that; In the house of the wise there are stores of choice food and oil, but the fool devours all he has. Clearly, God desires that we make plans to save for a rainy day to quote another saying from days gone by. God wants us to make plans for future needs. His word indicates that we should plan ahead to be able to care for those He has entrusted to us. The fact of the matter is that the entirety of His word is given that we might see our need for and know how to plan toward our spiritual future. We are unable to work for our salvation, we know that, but we are also told to do things like store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).
Let us not fail to remember that although we may be permitted to make plans we should never forget who controls the vast majority of the variables affecting those plans. In fact, I would submit that it is through God’s ability to easily control what for us are the uncontrollable variables, that He is able to fulfill the following scriptures without usurping the free will His word indicates He has endowed us with. Proverbs 16:9 says: We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 19:21 reiterates: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
With these things in mind, I think it most important for those of us who like to plan and those of us who would rather not, when we do…or must, remember the all-encompassing wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
So now, in wisdom and with renewed understanding, make plans only with the addition of “Good Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise”…and go be awesome!