- Eldon Peterson
I may not know what the future holds, but
Have you given much thought to time travel? If you could, would you choose to go backwards or forward in time? If forward, then it is likely to learn about what is coming. If backwards, it is likely to change something.
The quote, “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future” is attributed to Homer. I do not know “who” Homer was thinking of, but I know that Jeremiah had the Lord in mind when he wrote, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Our hope for the future does not come from knowing what the future holds; it comes by standing in the Lord’s past faithfulness. Standing in what we know, what we have seen. Repeatedly we see the Lord telling his people to remember what he has done in the past to give them hope for the future.
Remember why the Lord instructs Joshua to erect a memorial after they cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land? “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6b-7)
The Lord shows us his faithfulness to give us things to hang our faith on. Remembering how he carried us through difficult times in the past gives us courage to face today’s troubles. If we forget his past faithfulness it is easy to lose hope for the future. We need to remember that the Lord has purposed to “give you a future and a hope.”
Returning to my question, are there choices that you have made in the past that wish that you could change? Are there pains and hurts that have left a permanent mark on you that you would like to erase? Maybe, given the opportunity, you would like to turn back time and do it all over. Who hasn’t thought, “I wish that I could live that time of my life over again!”
As sincere as this thought is, it is impossible for us to know the impact that a do over would have had on our lives or the lives of others. Would it be for the better or would it cause a chain reaction that would change our lives possibly for the worse? Our obvious assumption is that it would be better, but how can we know?
A greater problem is the unspoken accusation that we are making towards God. Our desire to change the past in order to have a better now implies that God dropped the ball in allowing this or that to happen. It suggests that we know better than God does about what is best.
Mercy Me’s latest release "Dear Younger Me" asks what advice we might give to our “younger self”. Would we warn ourselves about the poor choices we have yet to make; point ourselves to different paths to take? However, as the song declares, maybe it’s not our choices but our understanding that needs to change. “Every mountain every valley, Thru each heartache you will see, Every moment brings you closer, To who you were meant to be.”
If you are like me, you want to avoid pain all together! However, such desires fail to see how my troubles can bring me to the cross where I can be healed. My suffering shows me how hope will never be found in a life without worries but instead will only be found in the cross that gives me life.
Likewise, knowing the future could make my journey more perilous because I do not hope for what I already know. If I knew the future, I might be fearful to step into it. Even knowing that the bumps along the road will lead me to a good place, I would still be tempted to choose an easier path. However, in doing so, I would miss all the joys that the Lord has prepared for me.
I may not know what the future holds, but I can rest in the Lord who does! “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)