Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday's Sentiments: Of Mice, Men, and Jonah

You know what they say, "The best laid plans of mice and men. . . . "

You don't?

Well, actually, I didn't either. Turns out, the phrase is from a poem by Robert Burns, entitled, "To a Mouse", and the line goes something like this:

The best laid plans o' mice an' men
gang aft agley,

Huh? Maybe this time in English. . . .

The best laid plans of mice and men
go often askew.

(Turns out, the entire poem is a Scots poem, depicting the English persecution of the Scottish farmers. There are many others who can flesh that out more than I . . .but it seems lately, everything has to do with Scottish History! Just a bizarre theme in my life, methinks. Or maybe it's an end result of being in a PCA church! You know, the one that drags out bagpipes on Reformation Sunday?)

Or, as Scripture would state:

In his heart, a man plans his course
but the LORD determines his steps.

My course was planned. Prep the house for a showing, go to evening service at church, come home and pack, get up early, head for Indiana. No problem, right?


Turns out, we have a little thing called a stomach bug here. Amy complained her stomach was hurting, walked in the door, turned into the bathroom, and threw up all over the floor.

The LORD determining my steps, indeed.

During the sermon tonight, on Jonah chapter 2, Pastor Stallings stated the following: "Now, I know that none of you are called to go to Nineveh and preach the gospel in the near future, but consider what the Lord would have you do that you need to lay before Him; what have you vowed that you need to make good?" (I'm paraphrasing here: no note-taking tonight)

It was rather fun to tell him afterwards that, actually I was driving to Nineveh (Indiana) in the morning, and I was indeed hoping to share the gospel, and furthermore, I would be considerably near a body of water. To which he laughed heartily!

I neglected to add those famous words, "If it is the Lord's will".. . . . . . .

I've been meditating through James lately, small bits at a time, trying to let the richness of the Word sink in deeply. Maybe it's the unsettled season we've been living through, maybe it's turning 40 and thinking over the brevity of life, but this scripture has been resonating lately:

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." 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. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
James 3:13-15, ESV

I used to think I had it all planned out. When in reality, it's all an illusion. Think about it. One phone call, one car accident, one diagnosis, one word from a loved one, and the course of your life is altered forever.

And truthfully, I'm not sure I would want to be allowed to truly, really, absolutely plan my own future. It's a frightening thought. Paralyzing, almost, to think about the decisions I would make, and the impact those decisions would have not only on my life, but on a thousand unintended ways on the lives of those I know and even those I don't know.

I'd much rather - no, I'd far rather - place my life in the hands of One who knows the beginning and the end, the most holy omniscient God, who is constantly weaving my tapestry of His grace, and conforming me more and more to the likeness of His own dear Son.

Because, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. . . . .

And actually, now you do!