It's not a phrase you hear all that often, these days. Not in the parts of America where I've lived, at least.
That's not a criticism of people in this country. Just an observation.
I don't think that people today would, if they really thought about it, believe that they can, by their will and strength alone, guarantee with absolute assurance that they will wash the car, walk down the street, or whatever.
The odds are pretty good, for that sort of thing, that they'll achieve their objective: but still, there's the remote possibility that something will prevent them from achieving their goal.
So why do I say "God willing" so much?
God isn't following me around, carrying a stick to knock me down if the fit seizes Him. At least, I think that's - unlikely. And I'm not afraid that God will smite me if I don't say "God willing" after every statement of intent.
I am, however, acutely aware of my limitations.
I'm a human being: which makes me pretty hot stuff. We're spirit-matter hybrids, made in the image of God, with dominion over this world. (That doesn't mean that we all look like Charlton Heston's Moses and can do what we want, without consequence. (January 25, 2010, December 18, 2009, December 4, 2009, for starters)
But the powers I was born with have limits.
For example I can, if I choose, try to walk through a brick wall. But no matter how much I 'really believe' that I'll pass through the wall: when I'm done, I'll still be on the same side of the wall. And parts of my leading edge will hurt.
Even if what I firmly intend to do is well within my power - like walking down the block - I can't say with absolute certainty that I'll make it to my goal.
The odds are really, really good that I will: but a car could jump the curb and hit me; some medical issue I don't know about could disable or kill me; a tree branch could fall on me. Unlikely? Yes. Possible? Also yes.
So, knowing that I cannot guarantee that the unexpected won't happen - I'll claim that by my word, will and strength alone I will achieve my goal? Not likely.
The Lesson of the Flying DutchmanSure, sightings of the Flying Dutchman are, often, a sort of Fata Morgana mirage. Probably. But the stories about a skipper who made an imprudent vow to achieve some end - no matter what it took - have a sort of truth behind them.
Sometimes, no matter how much we really, really want to do something: we can't. Not because we're lazy, or don't care: but because something like that brick wall gets in the way.
So, more often than most other contemporary Americans do, I'll say "God willing." It's a habit I developed, to help me remember that God's God, and I'm not.
The brick wall? I've walked around a few: but that's another topic.