I remember hearing an old lady say to a man who said that he had no time, “Well, you have got all the time there is.” I thought that was a very conclusive answer. You have had the time, and you still have all the time there is—why do you not use it? Nobody has more than twenty-four hours in a day, and you have no less. – Charles Spurgeon
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14, ESV)
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:30-34, ESV)
All of us want to know the future to some extent. They may be little things, like waiting for a text response that is critical to how your day develops. They could be slightly bigger things, like getting a gift for someone and wanting to see their reaction at getting it. Perhaps they’re even a little bigger than that: You want to know what the doctors are going to say. Or, you’re waiting on a call back after a job interview. Or wanting to know what would happen if you did, x, y, or z.
There are many things we want an answer on and worry about:
I want to be married, but why have no steps come about for me to pursue it?
I am already married, and it’s harder than I expected. Will things ease up? Will we stay together?
I feel stuck in my job, and I want to do more for Christ. Am I wasting time doing what I can now?
I’m falling behind on my bills, and I don’t know where the money will come from. How can I not be stressed?
My education seems to be failing me. Is this serving an ultimate end in my life?
You can chase the rabbits of possibilities, but until events actually happen in real time, you won’t have an answer. Even then, you, like Job, are not guaranteed answers to everything in this life. There are many things in this life the Lord will simply stay silent on, and that is because there are many things that are not relevant to know at this moment (Deut. 29:29). Yet, too often I find it so easy to meditate on the possibilities and what-ifs of my present circumstances, and invest my emotions so much in what I hope will transpire, that I miss out on the blessings and unique opportunities of today.
It’s easy for us to take the words of Jesus, “do not worry about your life,” and consider that more a principle than a command that is costly. It is costly because the command requires us to not serve “God and mammon [Greek for money or possessions] (Matt. 6:24).” One could also include, potential relationships, risky decisions, and the future in general. It’s God alone who should receive our worship, nothing additional, and nothing in place of- and it’s that clarifier that makes it hard for us. It is precisely because we do not hold the future that we want to know the future- we don’t have the whole world in our hands, but we at least want our own worlds in their grasp.
Moreover, we hold onto these anxieties about the future because we believe that if we had the knowledge of future good or evil, we would do better right now. We would make wiser choices- we would avoid greater pitfalls, we could project a better idea of what to do with our lives. But, this is all a lie. It’s a lie exactly because God did not design you to know the future; He did not wire you as a new creation in Christ to worry, and exhaust yourself with potential outcomes, and to be crippled by your feelings. No, He has given you divine faith to trust Him now with what you cannot know next. Consider these often-used, but poorly understood words from Proverbs 3:5-6,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he lwill make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
To not lean on your own understanding means your understanding is not a sufficient tool in your arsenal. It cannot guarantee you any potential outcome. It cannot guarantee you any other knowledge than what you know now. Yet, why do we so often run to it as a means of escape? Why do we rely upon it to get us through, instead of acknowledging the Lord’s hand in what we’re doing today? Let’s look at another passage to help us gain some further clarity on this matter.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17)
Certainty about tomorrow in regards to temporal things is impossible. Just to further hammer in the point, James says, “you are a mist,” this means you are not here in this temporal body and place in time to try and stick around. You have an eternal soul that has an eternal purpose, and that can be lived out today. So, if we rework these promises in light of what we can do now, instead of worrying about the future, what would our days look like?
Oh, and a clarifying note: I’m not saying don’t think about the future, or not have intermediate goals to getting there. What I am talking about is a constant focus on what is not guaranteed instead of looking outside yourself at what can be done today in the meantime, in the waiting, in the praying and the patiently waiting for an answer. Pray about the future, don’t settle waiting around for it.
Therefore, if we were to change the way we looked at today, how we see the past, present and future would change:
Was all under God’s control (Eph. 1:11).
Cannot be changed.
Can be learned from.
Can help us gain perspective of what we can do differently now in our repentance and relationships with others.
Is not there to be a continual guide, but a reference point for God’s faithfulness.
Can reveal your lapses, your room for growth, and inform better decisions tomorrow
Is just as secure as the past and future are (Rom. 8:28ff)
Cannot be sufficient for your joy, you cannot make a decision now that will satisfy you forever. Only God can do that.
Is fundamental to what’s next, and will soon be the past.
Can be a stepping stone to future blessings by establishing obedience now (1 Cor. 3)
Has more opportunities in a second than we are aware of (Heb. 3)
Is sanctifying you and testing what you promised yesterday
Is certain: Christ returns, sin is ended, the Devil is cast into Hell.
If you are in Christ, you will not fall away.
In it’s smaller parts, cannot be known by you; know only to God.
In the future, the outcome of your labors will be seen.
The fruit of your patience will be evident.
God will be seen as glorious and glorified in all of it.
Here’s how your day can look:
Go and do your laundry to the glory of God. Scrub your bathroom recognizing it’s something good you can do now to glorify God, While you run errands, drive to work, spend time with family, or read a book, be fully involved with what is going on now. Think about what God is doing now, and enjoy today. If you are suffering, remember what God has brought you through- look at things through the eyes of eternity. Don’t hold out hope for an outcome you desire, trust the Lord’s will. And if you are waiting for an answer, look at the certainties God has given you today. Don’t lose hope.
Lastly, encourage your friends in the faith, and don’t give Satan a chance to deceive or leave others to discouragement. Encourage others, serve others, spend your time looking out for other people. Be an example of Christ today, and don’t be frozen over with what you don’t know just yet. There’s more that could be said, and maybe more will be said another day…
In the meantime, how about one more word from Spurgeon?
If you have not the time, God gave it to you, and you must have misspent it. – Charles Spurgeon
Until next time,