April 30, 2020 by Judy Shear
I was listening to a radio show when the host asked his audience a question: “When the pandemic is over, what is one positive thing you want to have learned from it?”
“How would I answer this? When I have gone through stressful times in my life, my hope is always that I will be a new, different, and a somehow better person on the other side. As God prompts us to reflect on our lives at various times, he asks the question in a slightly different way. In Luke 9:25 he asks, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” We are instructed to live our lives with three goals in mind according to Micah 6:8 where God tells us what is required of us: “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with Him.
As a family, we had many plans in place for our lives this April. Some of us were traveling for leisure, for enrichment, or to visit family. Our extended family planned a wedding which had been eagerly anticipated since last fall. I also had my work life planned out carefully. I knew where I would be working until I made the choice to retire and things were moving toward that goal without any problems. Obviously, travel was banned, reservations were canceled, and visits have taken place with Facetime and Zoom. The wedding took place on a new date and under substantially different conditions than had originally been planned. My workplace closed for a time and where I would be working and even if I would work until my planned retirement date was in question.
These experiences reminded me of a phrase I heard often from my grandparents and their contemporaries. I also saw it in letters that they had written when they were younger. They would often end written or spoken discussions about plans or visits with the initials “D.V.” I knew the intent of those letters but until I looked it up I didn’t know the exact meaning.
The initials stand for Deo Volente-Latin for “God willing”. It may have become rote after frequent use yet I sensed a strong belief by my grandparents that God was in control and we were wise to leave our futures in His hands rather than make plans which could be outside his will.
The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 points out the foolishness of planning ahead on our own. The rich man had “plenty of good things laid up for many years. The goals in his life were to “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry”. God had other plans: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. “(verse 19b, 20a). I can also learn about whom is really in charge from Ps 33:10: “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever.”
We may have our lives planned out for the next week, the next month, or the next decade. We may even think our plans would be God-honoring, or at the least, not against his will. We have seen in the past weeks how quickly the health crisis we are experiencing has changed any plans we might have had. Some of these changes seemed to happen overnight. Fear for the future is a common theme in these devotionals. We have to make wise plans but know that we are not in control. He wants us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) before we build a tower but always realize we must “seek first his Kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).
These thoughts reminded me of a passage that supported my grandparent’s use of D.V. I found it in James 4: 13-17:
13” Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
My prayer is that I will seek God’s will before committing to a plan, that I will realize that my life as I know it is “but a mist” and that as much as I like to think I know what will happen tomorrow or next week my life is all in God’s hands and that is the best place for it!
Hoping to see you soon, D.V