Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Deo volente was often used in conjunction with a signature at the end of letters and was used in order to signify that “God willing” this letter will get to you safely and/or “God willing” the contents of this letter come true. As an abbreviation (simply “D.V.”) it is often found in personal letters (in English) of the early 1900s, employed to generally and piously qualify a given statement about a future planned action, that it will be carried out, so long as God wills. It was used because James 4:13-15 seems to suggest this way of speaking:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” —James 4:13-15
There is so much depth to James 4:13-17 to remind us of just what God wills. In the big picture, do we include God in all of our plans? Do we include Him in our career or educational plans? Do we pray about the path He wants us to take? When we make plans and exclude God, no matter what the plans are, it is as if we are boasting in our own abilities.
James chapter 4, verses 13 and 14 refer to making future plans for prosperity without consulting God. Even if the plans are honorable and righteous, God may have other ideas. Our lives are but a blink of God’s eye, “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” God wants us to consult with Him for all plans.
I plan ahead. If I do not have the next step or two thought out before I get to them, I feel behind and unorganized. However, God does not work this way. Ever since I gave Him full rights to my life, I cannot seem to plan anything too far in advance. He is the ultimate schedule shifter. James notes, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” I have to remind myself of this. Life throws sudden changes at you. Yes, I still plan ahead to the best of my ability, but I now make flexible plans instead of rigid ones. This is one way I submit my life to God, by giving Him free reign to jumble my schedule. In the end, I trust God has a better idea of what I should do with my life than I do since He sees the entire picture.
I remind myself that God has a plan for me in my prayers. I begin by asking God to forgive me of my sins, then I ask Him to guide me down the path He has chosen for me before asking Him to bless my family and friends. I pray for guidance down the path God has chosen for me, because I know it is not an easy path. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
I’ve learned to use verse 15 in all planning. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” There is so much each of us wants to do with what time we have left in our lives, right? Personally, I want to get a good job, travel to Europe again, write a book, get in better shape, and be healthier. With each thing I want do to, I pray about it and say, “Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, then I will do it.”
Psalm 37:4 states: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This is a Scripture of hope. We think, “I love the Lord and so He will give me whatever my heart desires.” That sounds great and all, but what about this: if we love the Lord and become very close and intimate with Him, very soon His desires become the desire of our hearts. Ask the Lord if your desire is His will and you may find that His will truly becomes your desire.
Tomorrow, I am supposed to travel for a job interview. “If the Lord wishes” has been something that has run through my mind a lot the last few weeks. Whether I get this job or not, I know that it is God’s will. Sometimes our ambitions can rob us. We can become so enmeshed with what tomorrow can bring that we don’t fully engage with what is in front of us today. But the Bible tells us that our current actions are important to God. The things that you pay attention to now will have great impact upon your tomorrow, so don’t daydream about what could happen—be fully present with what you are doing today. I have been trying to do that as I prepare for this interview and trip. I know that I just do my part, but the outcome will be the Will of God.