Dear Friends in Christ,
Funny thing about “time” … as human beings we live in “the now.” Yet we often dwell on the past … achievements and defeats. This can lead us to a false sense of pride … or an improper sense of doom. We might also frequently dream of the future. While planning is important, too much focus on what we think the future holds can also lead us astray ... into a false sense of security or overblown anxiety. You can’t change the past … and, for the most part, you can’t control the future. We can, however, act in the present.
This has always been a problem for people … including God’s prophets and disciples. In 1 Kings 19:9-21, we see how Elijah suffered from an overblown sense of his own abilities as he reflected on the amazing past he was part of (1 Kings 17-18). When things didn’t appear to be going the way Elijah envisioned, he became very depressed … to the point of wanting to quit and die. Elijah expected God’s people to repent and come back to God. Instead, Queen Jezebel put out a contract on Elijah’s head and God’s people continued rebelling against Him. Elijah thought he knew, based on the past, what the future should look like. With an unexpected whisper, God let’s Elijah know things would be different – just not what Elijah expected. God encouraged Elijah to stick to His plan, trust Him and follow Him in faith. Don’t let the past dictate the future, and don’t invent your own version of the future. Let God lead through His Word.
In Luke 9:51-62, Jesus has similar words for His disciples. James and John, the Sons of Thunder, want to destroy the Samaritans rejecting them. But Jesus has mercy. James and John don’t see the future Jesus sees, when the Samaritans will be subjected to God’s mercy … mercy that wouldn’t possible if they were destroyed today. Others misread the future too. They want to follow Jesus, envisioning glory in the court of a mighty king. Jesus reminds them, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58) Following Him would require hardship in this life. It would also require them to let go of their past achievements and even family ties if they cause a distraction to the mission at hand. He reminds them that you can’t plow in straight, ordered lines if you’re always looking backward, away from the work you’re supposed to be doing (Luke 9:62).
While it’s fine to remember the past and good to plan for the future, it’s critical we spend our present firmly tied into God’s will for us through daily study of His Word. In the still, small voice of His Word, God tells us what He wants us to do and where to do it. As we see what He’s calling us to do … and not do … in prayer, we ask Him to help us live by His Word. This is how we live totally and completely trusting God. He leads us, energizes us, and keeps us from getting discouraged as, today, we do His will in His creation.
Your Brother in Christ,