The Jones household suffered a reminder this week that Covid is not the only viral illness! As people mingle more, and take fewer precautions, the normal sharing of coughs and colds will resume, and against a backdrop of reduced immunity due to a year and a half of anti-Covid precautions.
This is not a prelude to an encouragement to you all to continue to take care over the coming weeks and months, although I hope you will. Continued vigilance against viral transmission is, of course, important, but for me, the deeper lesson has been a renewed awareness of the truth of General Eisenhower’s famous axiom that while planning is essential, plans are useless.
We never know, in other words, what is going to happen, and we are always vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Luck, as Hamlet would surely have agreed, will do for us all.
This is not an obviously Christian sentiment. The fatalism of ‘que sera sera’ does not derive from the Bible or from the teachings of Our Lord, but there are some interesting parallels. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’ is how the Authorised Version reports some words of Jesus. Elsewhere Jesus warns against the folly of those who believe falsely that their wealth and success in this world offers a substitute for the eternal security that only God can provide.
The broader context of these teachings is that we are to trust God on a moment by moment basis. We worship a God of surprises whose plans outrank our own. Too often, we approach our faith as an exercise in enlisting God’s help and support for what we want to happen, forgetting that our real business as Christians is to commit ourselves to what God wants to happen.
That doesn’t mean that all planning is a waste of time, but it does mean that we should be careful not to invest more of ourselves in our plans than we do in our God. The Bible teaches us to pray continually. Not just when we’re on the rota, not just on Sundays, not just when we’re in church, not just when we are preparing to go to sleep, or when we are in trouble, but continually, without ceasing.
This kind of dependence on God’s presence, God’s guidance and God’s help is the real discipline of the Christian way of life. It takes practice and most of us will spend a lifetime getting slightly less bad at it. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the realisation that we are not called to make amazing things happen for God. We are called to be the people in whom God does amazing things.
May God bless you all,