Friday, February 17, 2012

I Know Not What the Future Holds

Do you check the weather forecast every morning? And watch the long-range forecast with a nervous eye if you're planning a Saturday outing?

Do you pay serious attention to what climatologists, sociologists, eschatologists, and other futurologists say we can expect in the next decade? 

What would you give for infallible knowledge of the right place to be at the right time?

Human craving to know the future is near-universal--and sometimes dangerous. One man left a good marriage for one that proved miserable because an astrologer had told him he was destined to meet his true soul mate after his first marriage. A woman came to her pastor in hysterics, begging for help with a compulsion to commit suicide on what a fortuneteller had predicted would be the last day her life was any use. 

One sometimes wonders if Christian fascination with predicting the imminent end of the world is any better. Some people read the Bible like the prophecies of Nostradamus, searching for every possible parallel between what the text says and what happens in the real world, then announcing that this will surely happen next. The many failed prophecies in that regard can't be doing God's reputation much good.

Even in Christian dress, the desire to know the future is closely tied to the craving to control the future, to "be like God." Which is probably why the Bible has nothing good to say about fortunetelling and divination--and why Jesus said no one can know the time of the end, a quote that many sincere Christians go through extreme semantic contortions to explain away. We want the comfort of being certain that our earthly struggles will end soon, preferably before they have a chance to get extreme. We want to be assured in no uncertain terms that we will not only go to Heaven, but have a pretty good time along the way. We don't want to admit that God alone knows what will happen--and rarely sees fit to give us much detail. We don't want to let go, concentrate on whatever work He has for us at the moment, and let Him take care of the future.

How much more content we would be if we left the worry and responsibility to Him!

What years of coming future hold,
I have no eyes to see:
But He Who holds those coming years
Is also holding me.

With God to watch my every step,
I have no use for fear:
I’ll walk with joy the path of faith,
And trust that He is near.

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