Sunday, July 22, 2018

“Lord willing”

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)
Any time I use the future tense, I try to add “Lord willing” to that statement. This is true of things both big and small. Sometimes it's with fellow believers, and sometimes it's not.

To some people this can sound ominous, as if by adding that one should assume said future statement is not the Lord's will. That says more about a person's view of God's will than it does about the statement condition.

If “Lord willing” is added to short-term things that we fully expect to happen, it can also help normalize its use and our comfort level with the phrase. Whether we're comfortable with it or not, it's a testament to our trust in the Lord with the everyday things of life.

I've used the phrase with things that I don't want to happen, but I fully expect to happen. That can even weird believers out.

Sometimes I've used “Lord willing” a professional secular context where this addition can amount to a disclosure of my theological disposition. Even if that makes it a risk, the return far outweighs any possible liability. Some people may not pick up on it in which case at the interpersonal level it amounts to only a shibboleth or a dog whistle.

It's possible to borrow the headline writer's technique and rephrase things into the present tense such that the use of “Lord willing” is no longer applicable. I recommend against this as it bypasses what could become an opportunity to share your testimony.

I've only known a few people to use “Lord willing” consistently. My parents and grandparents. A dear friend from church.

Nancy Pelosi says, “God willing.” Lord willing she'll continue to do the same and know His will for her and for this nation.

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