Friday, August 18, 2006

Boasting about Tomorrow

Boasting about Tomorrow is the (admittedly uninspired) title in my Bible for James 4:13-17.

13Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- 14yet you do not now what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


This passage always reminds me of the maid who counted her chickens before they were hatched. She had plans to sell the chicks (if my memory serves me) and buy a milk cow(?) to make profit from the cream, which would allow her to buy more things, etc. She had elaborate plans, worked out several steps in advance. . . and then she dropped the eggs.

Hmmm. That's a lot like life, is it not?

I used to have my life planned out pretty clearly. College at 17, marriage just after graduation at 21, kids immediately following. Six years later I would start home schooling, while my kids were perfectly spaced naturally about 2 years apart. Since I would have exactly 12 children, I would have my last child at about 44. Well, the college part did proceed as planned, but the marriage part obviously did not :). Now my whole life plan has to be shifted at least a few years! Ah, the amusingly exact plans we have. . .

What actually inspired these musings was a simple question on a questionnaire. I was updating my homeschool alumni profile, since I had decided that parts of it were attracting hyper-conservative guys. It worries me when I get an e-mail that says You probably never thought you would meet someone as conservative as you, but life is full of surprises. . . so the old profile definitely had to go.

But back to the matter at hand. I had already filled out my general personal information before, but since that time, they had added a few additional personal questions. One new questions was Do you (or will you) homeschool your children? A year ago I would have checked "yes" without hesitation. In fact, Father Dear and I have had many discussions over the years regarding my stalwartness in this area. Earlier this year I finally realized that he had been right, and I had been overly exclusive in my support of homeschooling. Isn't he nice not to have told me, "I told you so"?

I still want to home school, but I realize that may not be my calling in life, and I especially realize that it is ultimately up to my husband to direct the education of my children. Whether or not I home school is no longer a matter of conscience (public education is an entirely different matter. . . ). So here I was filling out a simple questionnaire and over-analyzing a question. I have a tendency to over-analyze things. So I checked "unsure." I want to homeschool my children, but I couldn't emphatically state that I will. The passage in James resounded through my mind too loudly :). And I've learned in the past few years just how laughable are my "plans" for the future.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you are probably a lot like me.

I was the romantic. I wanted to be married, be a SAHM, and have many children. I dreamed of home schooling. I would plan out the dishes, furniture and even future menus for my future family.

Now I’m fast approaching my mid-twenties with zero prospects of marriage. The last of my friends is getting married the last Saturday of this month. Many are own their 2nd child and one is a few weeks pregnant with their 3rd.

I feel behind in a way. I see pictures of women who are 23 or 24-years old with homes of their own and it makes me want to cry. I feel left out. I feel almost like I’m behind everyone else in a way. I just didn’t think this is how my life would be. I thought I had it all planned out.

I used to pray for a husband. I don’t any more. If God wants me to marry I will. I think the prayers were doing more harm them good. I would often cry as prayed. I’m even near tears now. It is such a touchy subject. I almost didn’t ask off work for my friends wedding because I thought it would be too hard. At the last moment I changed my mind.

I’ve never had dreams of a career or wanted to go to college. There is nothing earthly I wanted more than marriage. Since it is just not happening I’m pretty upset and wonder what I should be doing day in and day out.

It is just hard when things don't go as planned, isn't it?

zan said...

That was a very cool post, Susan. I really liked that verse. I feel the same way about homeschool as you do. When George is 5, which is 3 yrs away, we will see. Better not to worry about it now.

Anonymous, I really hope and pray that you will find someone soon. It is really hard to be single. I think it is harder to be single than married.

Susan said...

Anonymous,

I go through feeling the same way. It is hard (as Sherrin mentioned in the previous post in marriage) to wait, and sometimes it doesn't seem like things are going the way they're "supposed to." I've learned though, especially in the past year, that God's way may not be my way, but it is always the best way. I am honestly thankful today that I did not marry immediately after college graduation. I see the way God has worked in my life since then, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, even a husband and children. I still do pray that God will send me a husband and children, and I know He will in His timing, if it be His will.

Two of my favorite half-verses are Psalm 34:10b and Psalm 84:11b. They both promise that God does not withold any good thing from the righteous. That doesn't mean that a husband is not a good thing, but I know it means that right at this moment a husband is not a good thing for me. I can look back and see in the past that God was right in keeping me from marriage before, so I can trust that He also knows if it is best to continue keeping me from marriage. And meanwhile He is showing me that He has a lot for me to do as a single young woman.

Are you familiar with the hymn God Moves in a Mysterious Way? You can look it up on Cyber Hymnal. It is my favorite hymn on the subject of God's sovereignty and plan. The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. . . Behind a frowning providence, He hides a shining face. It's a very, very good hymn :).

Well, I don't know if that helped you or not, but I will be praying for you :).

Ashley said...

I know all about spoiled plans! I am thankful I didn't get married after college graduation. (I only wish I had listened to God in the first place, which would have saved a lot of hurt.) I am thankful for where God has brought me since then, but I would never have thought this would be the road I would take. I definitely learned not to count on anything in the future. In fact, I think it was like a few days before my wedding when I finally stopped having apprehensions that it wasn't going to happen!

Susan, I think if you had been married right after graduation we wouldn't have gotten the chance to be such good friends. So even though I know you pine to be a wife and mother, I'm thankful (selfishly!) that God is asking you to wait. I am so appreciative of our friendship, and the friendship of your entire family!

Anna Naomi said...

Good post! I too would really like to get married as soon as possible, but God may have something else in store for me, so I just need to trust Him. I too plan about things I'd like to do all too easily, but God knows the future, and His plan is perfect! The waiting is sometimes very hard however...

Jessie said...

Well, girls, you're all exactly right : ) It is hard to be single "when everybody else isn't" and it's hard to see the
frowning Providence. But we just have to take it on faith that there really is a Smiling Face behind it all. It's hard to do- impossible in the flesh (I know!). But when we just take God at His Word and believe what He says about our good future being in His hands, it's easier to bear our burdens. I say it's easier for us to bear our burdens, but what I should say is that we give them over to Christ, and in exchange, He gives us His light yoke. But you know, something I think is interesting about the image of the yoke is that it always links two creatures together- two bulls, two donkeys, two horses, etc. So if we are taking on Christ's yoke, are we not attaching ourselves to Him? Is He not there beside us, bearing the load as well? Just a thought : )
Thanks for the post, Susan. You know my story about my foiled plans (esp. those involving you-met-who!). ; D

Anonymous, check out Carolyn McCulley's blog and website. She's still single and near 40. She's been a wonderful encouragement to me in the past- you might glean from her as well! I will pray for you!

Susan said...

Ashley, you are so right about spoiled plans, and you certainly know! And actually, one of the reasons I am thankful that I didn't marry when I planned is just for the reason you mentioned. . . we probably wouldn't have reconnected again, and your friendship has been such a blessing to me this past year :).

Jessica, I really like your mention of the yoke, and I had never thought about being yoked with Christ in the way you described it. Of course all this is acomplished by our beautiful and mystical union with Christ!

Lydia said...

Wow! This was an insightful, enlightening post. Susan, I laughed out loud when I read of your future plans because they sounded so much like something I have done before.

I, too, had much of my hypothetical future planned out. Curiously enough, mine started out more along the career woman, later marriage track but God has changed me greatly even in those areas. Now, I realize that it is just best to take it one day at a time, walking with Him every step of the way. I have no clue what He has in store for me. My deepest prayer, the greatest cry of my heart is just to be in His will and follow Him. I feel like I fail so miserably most of the time but I am just amazed at how patient, gracious, and faithful He is to me.

One of the most monumental turning points came to me during BSF last semester while I was studying Genesis. We studied the life of Abraham in depth since his life takes up most of the book. In chapter 18, God has come to visit Abraham and proclaim that he will have a son not only in his old age but by his aged wife of ninety years! Sarah doubted the word of the Lord and even laughed at the thought, but God was faithful to what He had promised. When I reflect on this passage it gives me such great hope because if God could give a ninety-year-old woman a son who had never borne children before, then He can surely provide me a husband if it be His will and in His way. He is the same God today that He was then.

I just love this account and have claimed the promise in verse 14 that asks, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" I can look back on my past full of difficulty and the circumstances I am in and think, "Me of all women would be highly unlikely to ever marry so why should I even get my hopes up?" Yet, because of the character and faithfulness of my Lord I know that He can bring it to pass if it be in His plan for my life.

Now, the challenge is in living for Him each day to the best of my ability. I won't get any closer to being married by worrying about it, longing for it or being upset. I have to trust in the faithfulness and goodness of God to provide for my every need.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound preachy but these are the true thoughts of my heart. I share them to encourage other young women in a similar setting.

I think what you shared is excellent for anyone to reflect on no matter what their station or calling in life. We can all be tempted to "boast of tomorrow" thnking we have life all figured out.

A friend and I have conversed recently about how if we knew exactly what God wanted us to do and when it would happen and how it would play out, we wouldn't have much need to learn to have faith in God for his timing and purposes. We would just meticulously follow these pre-cut plans and never think twice about it. It sounds nice and simple but it takes so much away from the journey of faith we each are on during our lifetime. Trusting God doesn't end when the wedding bells toll, it only heightens the necessity.

Whoa, boy! Better stop now before this turns into a book! ;) You touched on something very close to my heart.

Thank you for sharing this, Susan. You have obviously put a lot of thought into your writing and the plans for your future. I admire that about you, how you think through all of life's situations thoughtfully and carefully. If God calls you to be married some day, I know you will be an excellent wife and mother because God will have equipped you specifically for that role. Until then and even after, live your life for Him because nothing could be more worth living for.

Jessica said...

Another great post, Susan...and an excellent and timely reminder! Though I have to admit that I laughed when I read about "attracting hyper-conservative guys"...is Homeschool Alumni the conservative homeschoolers' online dating site now?! *smiles*

But on a serious note...I am SO thankful that we serve a God who is in COMPLETE control of EVERYTHING. When I remember that (which, sadly, is not always)...it's so comforting...

Susan said...

Thank you so much for your insight, Lydia. I could not agree with what you said more :).

I especially liked the part you relayed about your conversation with your friend:

A friend and I have conversed recently about how if we knew exactly what God wanted us to do and when it would happen and how it would play out, we wouldn't have much need to learn to have faith in God for his timing and purposes.

That is so true! Sometimes waiting is the very best thing for our spiritual growth :). And I also liked your point that trusting God doesn't end when the wedding bells toll, it only heightens the necessity.That is especially true! Marriage isn't the end of our journey to happiness or fulfillment, nor is it the end of our need to trust God in all circumstances.

If getting married is our single goal in life, then what will we do after we tie the knot? But if our desire is to be a godly wife and mother, than we will have a lifetime of learning and striving towards that when we marry. Even then, though, we can only strive towards that if we marry, and I certainly believe that women can be useful in God's kingdom even if their callings are not marriage!

Jessica,

HA isn't a dating site yet ;), though I seriously have heard of a few matches that have come out of it. God uses all sorts of ways to bring people together :). They need to start a "tell-your-HA-romance-story" thread. I think it would be very interesting!

Jessie said...

You're right, Susan and Jessica(2), about the dating (well I guess in this case we should say courting) opportunities on Homeschool Alumni! I was just thinking the same thing this morning. Too funny! : )

zan said...

Funny, I think my profile is on that homeschooling alumni. I just can't find it. lol. I think when I joined it I didn't know a single person on it. I only know a handful of homeschoolers, growing up.

Jessica said...

HA isn't a dating site yet ;), though I seriously have heard of a few matches that have come out of it. God uses all sorts of ways to bring people together :).

You're right, Susan and Jessica(2), about the dating (well I guess in this case we should say courting) opportunities on Homeschool Alumni! I was just thinking the same thing this morning.


Hmmm...maybe I should join!

Susan said...

Haha, Jessica :). HA is going to start getting a reputation. . . No, really, it's a great site with a lot of neat people who are genuine and serious about their faith. I used to participate on the forums regularly, but I chose to focus on blogging rather than try to balance both. I do think that a few people on the site are there solely for finding a mate, but that is an exception :).

Susan said...

Is this you, Zan?

zan said...

Yep. Zero friends, no comments, sounds like me. lol. I laughed hard when I saw that.

But, you blew my cover!!!

zan said...

I can't even log in because I forgot my password. I'm such a loser.

Jess, your profile looks alot better than mine.

Lydia said...

Oh, that is hilarious that you are on Homeschool Alumni, Zan. I never would have guessed that was you! I'm on there too under "Lydia." I heard about it several months back and was all geared up to be active but keeping up my own blog is about too much for me to handle sometimes. I did link to my blog from my profile so hopefully I get some new traffic that way. :) I was really hoping to go to the reunion this year but it didn't work out with everything else going on at the time.

I think I actually come across as less conservative on that profile compared to my Blogger Profile. I don't know if that's good or bad. I guess I figured most folks from HA would be relatively conservative compared to the general population on Blogger. Gotta keep the weirdos away, ya' know. ;)

Zan, you should update your profile. You do have two children now. I could invite you to be one of my friends and then you would have at least one friend. ;) But anyway, you have lots of friends without HA.

Sherrin said...

God really convicted me recently with the verse "is anything too hard for me?". I have so little faith in this area! I used to be OK, but seem to be getting worse and worse this year! Perhaps God is testing my faith, and teaching me to trust him.

Susan said...

Good verse, Sherrin! Another good one is Luke 1:37 :).