Tomorrow and Other Presumptions

“There is nothing quite as sobering as canceling appointments for a once-busy dead man.”

Sitting in the audience under the teaching of one of my favorite authors, I heard these words many years ago. Their power still grips me.

Every man I know carries some kind of calendar. Most prefer an electronic schedule-keeper, while almost no one uses old-fashioned paper ones. Until just a few years ago, the one I carried was huge. It included places for my license and credit cards along with monthly and daily calendars. Every year, I’d order twelve more months worth of pages. I always thought of this as sound planning, wouldn’t you agree? Come to think of it, it’s pretty presumptuous, too.

Several years ago, I attended a seminar designed to help people effectively use these organizers I used to carry. The leader told us something that reminded me of the quote from my author friend: “Never use anything but a pencil when you’re filling out your calendar,” he advised. “You never know what will happen.” Not bad for a traveling time-management salesman.

Although King Solomon never carried a smartphone or a planner or attended a time-management seminar, he certainly understood all of these things. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth,” he wisely said, pencil in hand (Prov. 27:1).

My grandmother never talked about future plans without prefacing them with, “The Lord willing.” “The Lord willing, we’ll have roasted chicken for dinner.” “The Lord willing, we’ll go to the store tomorrow.” “The Lord willing, we’ll see you this summer.” As a kid, this really irritated me. The Lord willing, you’ll stop saying “the Lord willing,” I used to mutter under my breath.

Little did I realize how appropriate, profound, and important this phrase was. In fact, my wife, Nancy, and I use it many times a day. Grandmother would be proud.

Carrying a calendar is good. Planning is a wise use of your time. Knowing what’s coming next week, next month, and next year makes a lot of sense. But be careful about being too confident. The Lord willing, we’ll even live until tomorrow.

By the way, is there anything you ought to take care of just in case someone else has to cancel all your appointments next week? Just checking . . .