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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 13:33:43 -0600
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Field Notes

by Michael E. Brooks

"But exhort one another daily, while it is called
'Today' ... Today, if you will hear his voice ..."
(Hebrews 3:13,15).

I am currently in the process of purchasing
tickets and confirming schedules for yet another
trip to South Asia. Dates must be fixed, times of
departure and arrival determined, and arrangements
made. This is done several weeks or even months in
advance of the beginning of the trip. It is an
essential part of the planning, yet I cannot help
but remember James' admonition against arrogant
assumption of the future.

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will
go to such and such a city, spend a year there,
buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do
not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is
your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a
little time and then vanishes away. Instead you
ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live
and do this or that'" (James 4:13-15).

James does not condemn planning. Rather, he
reminds us to remember that we do not control the
future, and we must always submit to the one who
does. As we recognize this truth, however, we also
realize that we do have control (at least in some
senses) of one particular period of time –- the
present. Whatever we do is always done now -–
today. The past cannot be revisited or altered.
The future cannot be guaranteed. Only the present
is ours to use.

The Hebrew writer calls upon us to encourage and
teach others today (Hebrews 3:13). The Psalmist
commands us to hear God and obey his word today
(Psalm 95:7). Paul says, "Now is the day of
salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

There is a critical difference between planning
for the future and putting things off for another
"more convenient" time (cf Acts 24:25). There is
also a great difference between providing for the
future and assuming it will surely come. As
Christians, and as wise people, we must choose the
first of each alternative and avoid the second.
Act today, before all opportunity ceases. Submit
to God and pray to him for tomorrow.

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