Just today I was given a simple reminder of the true emphasis of this statement. When after saying "Lord willing" the person I was talking to responded "He is willing to accomplish, are you willing to put forth the effort?" The thought really sunk in. Am I giving the effort necessary to accomplish my God-given goals? Reading through the passage that this phrase come from, I am reminded of what our life is all about - bringing glory to God.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.John Piper shares application to this pledge of "Lord Willing" with these remarks in Education for Exulation - Beginning and Ending with God
1. Education for Exultation means educating our children to have a true view of life as a vapor and a true view of God as governing how long we live and what we accomplish. Our aim is that they not be arrogant, but that they exult in the sovereign love of God, through Jesus Christ, who died for them and rose again. These pledges that we are about to make are not mainly about a building; they are mainly about a vision of God. God is sovereign. God governs our lives - their length and their achievement. He does it with a good and wise hand. He does it with a view to exalting Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world to save sinners like us. We want to teach this to the next generation and to the neighborhood and to the nations. To that I pledge my life and my money.
2. Corporately, as we make our pledges - which are simply prayerful financial plans, as James says, "to do this or that" - let us say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." If the Lord wills, we will be alive to give our pledge. If the Lord wills, we will have the resources we have pledged to give. If the Lord wills, my heart will have these purposes of generosity (1 Chronicles 29:18, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You"). Let us honor the truth of God in the way we think about our pledges and the way we talk about this ministry of giving.
3. Let us remember how wonderfully secure we are in the confidence that it is God who finally governs our lives - God and not chance, God and not our enemies, God and not disease, God and not the devil. I, for one, am very glad that my life is in the hands of an all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful Father. I pray that in the Gethsemane evening of my life I will be able to say with Jesus, "Not my will but yours be done," and then, "Into your hands I commit my spirit." Rejoice in this. You are immortal until God's work for you is done.
4. Finally, since your life and your accomplishments are ultimately in the hands of God, then he is able, in ways you never dreamed, to help you fulfill your pledge and provide every need besides. Philippians 4:19: "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." 2 Corinthians 9:8: "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed."