Being Bro. Gumby

I’m usually a fairly confident person. I do second guess myself on occassion, which is good. But generally speaking, I don’t hesitate when I make decisions during a day. I’m decisive, at least about the things I can be decisive in.

But what about tomorrow? There’s a big difference between being decisive today and having my mind made up about tomorrow. I can be as decisive as I want about the future — where I’m going, what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it — but if God decides to turn me on my head and send me another direction, what good is all the decisive planning and strategizing going to have done me?

Nothing, really.

Today’s verse is Proverbs 27:1.

1 Don’t brag about tomorrow,
      since you don’t know what the day will bring.

I love the Proverbs. They’re so simple, written in such plain language. And they’re so true.

I blogged yesterday about having hope in our daily walk. But again, there’s a big difference between having hope on a daily basis versus being boastful about the future.

If you would have asked me when I was a senior in high school, my future entailed the following:

  1. I would attend Pensacola Christian College for all four years.
  2. I would achive my degree in Commercial Writing (which was their journalism degree).
  3. I would marry someone I met at college.
  4. I would move home to Kansas.
  5. I would publish a book by the time I was 25.
  6. And we all would live happily ever after on the farm whlie I raised a herd of children.

Those were my plans for tomorrow when I was 18 years old. Do you know how many of those things have come true?

Well . . . I did move home to Kansas. And I do live on the farm, but I’m by myself I’ll be 29 in two weeks in fact and I have neither published a book nor even been on a single date.

My life took a drastic turn. Things changed. Things in my life and my situation and my education altered. And things I had planned for didn’t happen, and things I hadn’t planned for did. And honestly, I ended up at the college I said I’d never go to and laid the foundation for the life I’m living now.

So when I look back at myself when I was 18, I sound like a fool. How does an 18-year-old person know what his or her future is? And by that same token, how does a 28-almost-29-year-old person know what his or her future is either? What has changed between the person I was 11 years ago to the person I am now? Not much really. I’ve been hurt a few more times. I’ve traveled a few thousand more miles. I’ve met more people. I’ve worked more jobs. I’ve written more words. But I still can’t tell you for sure what tomorrow is going to bring.

So how can I brag about it? How can I speak confidently about what is going to happen tomorrow? The only thing I know for sure about tomorrow is that I’m learning something today that will help me get through it. All that’s certain about tomorrow is that God is the only one who knows what’s coming.

Now, am I saying we shouldn’t make plans? Not at all. When you’re on a trip, you need to know where you’re going so you know how much food to bring or how many shirts to pack. It’s the same with life.

If you know you’re going to be a writer, you need to study writing. If you know you’re going to be a missionary to Spanish-speaking people, you need to study Spanish. If you know you’re going to be an engineer, you need to study numbers that don’t exist. If you know something, you have to act on it . . . . at least, until God tells you differently. Because you can know something 100 percent but even our 100 percent knowledge is still flawed because we can’t see the whole picture.

So the best thing to do is plan for tomorrow but be ready to change course and do something complete different because you never know where God is going to take you in 24 hours.

We had a saying when I was in high school. For any of you Claymation fans out there, you’ll probably be familiar with Gumby, a green little clay person thing who had all sorts of adventures and always ended up stretched in many different directions, figuratively and literally. And whenever my high school group would go on mission’s trips or any trip, really, we would always say we needed to be like Bro. Gumby. (I’m hailing back to my Baptist roots here, putting Brother before the name. Oi.) It meant that we needed to be flexible.

It meant that we had plans to accomplish a certain thing or list of things. But if God threw someone in our path that we needed to help, we did it. It didn’t matter if it were right in front of us or miles down the road. It didn’t matter if it screwed all our other plans for the day or week up, we did it. We had plans, but we trusted that God would intervene in our lives and our walk if there were something more important to do.

And that’s how we need to live. Not scared of the future, of course, but not boastful about it either. We need to be like Bro. Gumby, confident but flexible. Besides, green is my favorite color anyway.