How do you plan your day, week, month? My wife keeps a physical calendar and she writes on the calendar all the events and schedules that we have upcoming. She likes the physical and visual view of that calendar. For work I keep my plans organized in my email. I know what I need to work on based on what email I have not acted on or completed yet. The list never ends and the weekends are always full. I know that the next two weekend are booked and I will need to return to work to recover from the weekends.
For all the planning and all the work I want to remind myself that it is all in vain outside of God. All my plans. All of my vision statements. All my day to day. All of my schedules could be derailed and stopped cold in an instant.
For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 1 Corinthians 16:7 ESV
All of my everything rests on “if the Lord permits”. We think we are in control and when we are proven to not be in control, we start having anxiety attacks. As I write this, I have a full-blown migraine because I have been so busy the last week, have eaten poorly, and have not slept well. It all catches up with us sooner or later. My planning and busyness has reached the limits of my physical self.
What does God allow and how does “if the Lord permits” impact life? A tour through the Bible will show God allowing and permitting many things. I have below four ways that the Lord permits us to live life and strangely some of them are not good for us.
#1 Basic laws of nature show the limits he has placed on people.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 27:12 ESV
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 ESV
God has placed laws of human nature on our hearts. If you do stupid things then you will be allowed stupid consequences. As mentioned above I have pushed physically too much and I have eaten terribly and the consequence is that I feel terrible right now while I write this letter. If I make lies and deceit a cornerstone of my life then I will reap the “woes” of evil in my life. These are the rules God put in place when he created and they are just as real and just as consequential as the physical laws of nature like gravity.
#2 Your knowledge of who God is, your faith in him, are a gift given by God.
Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1-3 ESV
Do you recognize Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father’s work in your life? The very fact that you know who He is and understand that this Creator has given you life is “permitted” by God himself toward you. Be thankful of this foundational knowledge. But even more than that seek a greater understanding of God. A deeper fellowship with Him each day is a blessing to be cherished. God is generous to all who seek him. He will give you wisdom if you ask him.
#3 Feeling a call to work for God? Don’t wait until you got it all figured out. Start now! God may not give you that chance again.
21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22 ESV
Have you known the person who talks a good spiritual game but their life does not reflect that talk? For example, someone who wants to serve those less fortunate might say something like “One day I will have saved enough or prepared enough to go off and serve God and others”. This verse where the Disciple said to Jesus, I want to follow you but let me bury my father first has what seems like a harsh response from Jesus. The time is now. Jesus found this disciple of no use. The disciple wanted to wait 5 or 10 years for his father to pass and then he would follow Jesus. Too late for that man and besides he would always have an excuse. If you want to serve Christ, he wants your focus now… not later. Jump if that call is on your heart.
#4 Don’t ignore God’s perfect standard just because he permits bad behavior in a sin cursed world.
3 And Pharisees came up to [Jesus] and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:3-8 ESV
Look at this exchange between Jesus and the Jews. God made man and women to be married for life. But people change and they lust after something better so they want a divorce. So, God put in provisions for divorce not because God thinks divorce is good but because people are evil. Because of our sins he allows or permits life to unfold in less than perfect ways. God “permits” less than righteous options in life but that does not mean we should go in that direction. Plus there are still the negative consequences of human nature that play out even in these “permitted” options. There is a Biblically permitted view of having multiple wives, slavery, murder, and all kinds of bad behavior but that is not because God views them right and perfect. He “permits” this behavior because he knows we are sinners.
Acknowledge all the ways that God permits his grace and mercy to find you in your daily life. Be grateful that you were able to rise from bed and go about your life. Thank him for everything big and small because you would have none of it apart from God.
13 Come 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”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 ESV