Families on the Move

Posted on October 15, 2010 · Posted in Communication, Criticism_, Gospel

In 1908 Henry Ford began to mass produce the Model T Ford.  For the first time, powered transportation became an option for everyday life. At first, the lifestyle changes for the general public were small. But in the 100 years that have passed since the Model T began production it is now difficult to imagine life without “wheels”.  Whether the destination is across town or across the state, we have only to find the keys and go.  The reality of quick, convenient travel has become part of our culture.

The modern family is a mobile family. Car makers have kept pace with vehicles designed specifically for families on the move. The station wagon morphed into the mini-van. Now the mini-van has been supplanted by SUV as the family transport of choice. Soccer practice, music lessons, field trips, vacations, and a myriad of other events require mobility. Thus, mobility has become a routine part of life.  And when something becomes routine it is often taken for granted. This has profound spiritual implications. Occasionally, you will hear someone ask for God’s protection for travel if a really long trip is contemplated.  But when was the last time that you heard a prayer request for travel to and from music lessons? A request for such a ‘routine” event seems out of place. Yet, this is precisely what God tells us to do. Take a look at what James has to say about mobility:

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.” 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. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.  James 4:13-17

James addresses two key issues connected to mobility. The first is the obvious one, travel. But the second is just as vital, the reason for the travel. It is unsettling to realize the connection the Holy Spirit makes about a casual attitude towards mobility and sin. When plans are made for travel, whatever the duration and objective for that travel may be, and God’s provision is not recognized as the key factor in safety and success of the journey, sin is committed.

Someone might object that James is talking about a journey lasting a year and surely that is not routine. However, look closely at James’ reasoning. He reasons from the smaller to the greater by saying you have no control over what will happen tomorrow, let alone a year from now. He drives the point home by comparing our lives to a morning mist that is here for a few moments and then is gone.  In this light, all travel plans are included from the quick trip to the grocery store to a combined, complicated vacation / business trip lasting several months.

James’ words here resonate with Paul’s in Acts 17 where he tells his hearers that God determines whether or not they will have their next breath. Failing to acknowledge this most basic of realities amounts to nothing less than arrogance. Paul also instructs us that all we say and do should be done for the glory and honor of God. (I Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:17) Not just some things but all things.  The danger of the routine is that we think that God is not needed for the routine – only for the really special events.  The fact is that we are totally dependent upon God for everything. This, of course, is not a popular idea. Man naturally rebels against the involvement of a personal God in the affairs of life. In our flesh we chafe at the idea that we are dependent upon God’s will and sustaining power to be able to drive to soccer practice and back again. We are just like the 5 year old that protests he doesn’t need any help crossing the street.

Mobility brings the temptation to think we can operate independently of God’s care. Busy schedules and tight deadlines crowd out thoughts of the Sovereign Lord. But he is there.  If you drove to music lessons or a sports practice this week your trip you were fully dependent upon God for a safe journey and a productive time whether you realized this or not.  Psalm 46 encourages us to be still and know that God is God. You must avoid the temptation to think that your careful planning and good driving is the reason your trip went well.

God, in his Providence, has given us a mobile culture in which to live. We must be thankful that we have the opportunity for travel.  But we must also see our mobility as opportunities to bring honor to God. As we grasp the depth of our dependence upon God, this will lead to humility.  James 3:13 urges that we be seen as humble people: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Yes, mobility is part of your life. Wisdom comes from a humble heart that knows just how powerful and involved that God is in your life.  Take James’ exhortation to heart. Recognize that all of the events that happen in your travels are superintended by the hand of God. Each traffic light that works, each car that passes by, each person you meet on your journey is part of the decreed will of God for your life. Acknowledge God for who he is to yourself, your family and the people you come into contact with. It doesn’t take a long theological discourse to acknowledge God’s Providence. All it takes is saying “okay kids, God willing it is time to go to practice.”

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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.