You know what I don’t like?
I don’t like not knowing the end of things. I’m that person who reads the end of books first, just because I am not going to sit through many hours of getting to know a character just to find out he or she dies in the end.
I realize many of you are howling and throwing your computer/tablet/phone across the room, vowing to unfriend me immediately.
I’m sorry, but I’m not really sorry. I just hate the yawning, gaping hole of the future. We can make every effort to do everything right, and have everything go so wrong. Take my friend Dan, who’s a marathon runner. The man loses toenails as he trains for his runs, and he just shrugs it off and keeps training. In his 50s, he’s fit and trim and can outrun people half his age.
Which is why we were all shocked when he was out for a run, had a heart attack, and nearly died on the trail. He survived only because a well-trained EMT (or firefighter, I forget which) happened to be behind him. He ran over to Dan, started emergency procedures, and our friend is alive and well. He went from healthy to pretty much dead to back alive in the matter of a few minutes. None of that was planned. He’d been running for years for his health! Not because losing toenails is a nice hobby.
The future is sneaky. It skulks around, seeping into our present and rearranging all our plans. We can work hard and have everything pay off. Or not. We can be completely lazy and suffer the consequences, or maybe we’ll win the lottery and then get to be lazy with 20 million dollars.
We might develop a health problem, or maybe we’ll give birth to a child with a health problem. We might lose a job, have a house burn down, or get written out of Great Aunt Greta’s will. None of these things figure into our plans and efforts for the future.
On the other hand, we might overcome a terrible health problem, be offered a great job we never expected, get to build a house, and then marry into money and live comfortably in a large Victorian manor. You just never can tell what’s coming.
I came across this reading this morning and thought I’d share it with you. It’s from Life on the Vine by Philip Kenneson. In this section Kenneson is writing about how we, as God’s people, are part of the witness of the church across the centuries. We’re part of a larger plan, God’s plan. He writes this:
The future is no longer that arena in which we strive to work out our own agendas. Nor is it that arena we need constantly fear because it invariably threatens to arrive and snatch away our head-earned achievements. The future–like the past and the present– remains the arena of God’s sovereign activity, and as such the future always remains an open future. (p. 125)
What a relief, yes? If I trust God to work out his plan in his future, then I can only do my best. I can be willing and obedient and listening carefully, but none of this is up to me. My entire life can explode this afternoon, and I’m not going to claim I will enjoy it, but I don’t have to worry about it.
And neither do you.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11)