Janet and I are on vacation, so I’ve asked our oldest son Ryan to write the Daily Article in my absence. Ryan has been writing for our website for several years. He has earned BA and Master of Divinity degrees and is completing a PhD in church history. I believe you will profit from his insights as he engages cultural issues with biblical truth.
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline passed yesterday afternoon, and the outlook for this year’s playoffs remains relatively unchanged. That doesn’t mean it was boring, as the Rangers and Dodgers pulled off a swap for ace pitcher Yu Darvish at the deadline, but the trades are usually defined by the rich getting richer at the cost of future prospects. Teams positioned to win now sacrifice a bit of their future for a better chance at experiencing success in the present.
The Houston Astros, on the other hand, made the opposite decision. They currently have the best record in the American League, but their rotation grows weaker by the day, and many doubt how well it will hold up in the playoffs. Still, they kept their best prospects to safeguard the future, even though it could come at a high price in the present.
Such calculations are not unique to baseball, however. Life requires that each of us weigh these sorts of decisions every day. The difficulty of doing so without knowing their consequences is a large part of what can make our time on this side of heaven so stressful. All we can really do is try to balance what we know of the present with what we expect might happen in the future. Fortunately, we serve a God for whom tomorrow is just as real as today.
Of course, that God knows the future doesn’t guarantee that we will, and such knowledge is often kept from us even when we ask. Scripture says that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), but a lamp only illuminates that which is immediately in front of us. What’s ahead typically remains dark or, at best, dimly lit.
I think God often leaves us relatively blind to the future for two primary reasons, both of which are ultimately for our own good. First, there are times when knowing the future today would simply overwhelm us. Frequently, God’s plans far exceed our estimation of what we can take, and that can be a scary proposition.
If we let him, though, God can use that period of waiting to help us grow and prepare for what’s coming so that, when it arrives, we can live out the calling he places on our lives in a way that we otherwise never could. Making peace with the unknown nature of the present, however, is a key part of that process.
Similarly, the second reason God often leaves us in the dark regarding the future is to keep us dependent on him. For God, the journey is as important as the destination, and keeping us focused on the present is a key part of helping us to live with that mentality as well.
David, for example, needed time with the sheep in the pasture and in the wilderness fleeing from Saul to become the king Israel needed him to be. Those moments of fear and waiting were not the best parts of his life, and I’m sure there were times he questioned God’s plans while facing down a lion or sleeping in a remote cave. But because he typically allowed the Lord to use that time to mold him, he was ready for the task ahead when his time finally arrived.
So, whether you’re struggling to balance the needs of today with the worries of tomorrow or simply too overwhelmed by life to give either more than a moment’s thought, trust that the God who promises to redeem our struggles and guide our path sees both the present and the future more clearly than we ever could.
Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Post, Common Call, and other publications.