Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Road Ahead: Thoughts On The Future

     In my last post, "Looking Back At The Road To Here", I reflected on the events of the decade of my life that had come to an end. As much as I've found it important to remember and reflect, I also finding myself increasingly occupied with thoughts of the future.

    There is no doubt that life is changing on many different fronts, and in a way that sometimes leaves me feeling in possession of more questions than answers. Six months after having landed a job after graduate school, standing on my own financially and juggling new and growing responsibilities that must be attended to, I find myself thinking about the road I have set out on and the entailments of this stage. Once again, the words of Frodo Baggins in my favourite novel and movie, The Lord of The Rings come back to me:

"Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Frodo Baggins, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

    Where will this road sweep me off to? Will I be able to handle the challenges that lie ahead? There is much that I feel inadequate about and unprepared for. This only exacerbates my tendency to feel as if I must become a hard-charging, achievement-oriented perfectionist, perfectly knowledgeable and capable of assuming complete mastery of whatever situation I find myself in. I'm confronted with the fact of how little I know about how the real world and things in life work, and I'm sure there are plenty of other young adults who find themselves in a similar state of affairs. As much as I believe in being optimistic about the future, I also believe that such an outlook will not be possible without a realistic assessment of where I find myself now.

    Although in primary school I was taught addition, subtraction, multiplication and division using money as an application and the idea of simple compound interest, I've realized how little I know about where money actually comes from and how to properly handle it. Witnessing the sequence of seemingly never-ending financial shennanigans in this country, our neigbour to the south and elsewhere on the globe over the last few years has ony made me more wary and distrusting of those who work in the financial sector. Can I do what it takes to navigate the pitfalls that might lead to a costly financial blunder and bring both myself and others to ruin?

    Speaking of "others", as I think of those both now and in future who will depend on me, I find myself contemplating my roles in work, ministry, relationship, marriage, family and all the challenges that accompany them. It gives me great concern as I survey the state of the culture and world that I live in, and its aspirations for the future, particularly the increasing intellectual hostility towards the Christian faith. As hard and hostile as it may seem now, I occasionally find myself wondering how I will guard and guide any children I might have in future through the cacophony of confusing voices and worldviews that will clamor for their attention in future. I have little doubt that the mental, spiritual and emotional stamina required will be tremendous. Will I buckle under pressure and crumble, or will I make it through?

    Among all these and many other concerns, there is also much joy and happiness that I find in what God is doing in my life, as I take steps to share my faith in the person with Christ with those around me. There is so much I want to do before He calls me to go home to be with Him. It is increasingly becoming my overwhelming desire that God would use me to make an impression for him in this city that I have lived in for the last five years. Of late, I have begun pondering the question as to what lengths I would go and hardship I would face for this city to know of the name and glory of God, and the saving power of the cross of Jesus Christ. As much as I struggle with concerns over the kind of person that I am or want to be, I also find and increasing an overwhelming passion that arises in my heart "out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it", as expressed in the famous words of Martin Luther.
    But even as I write this, it occurs to me that whatever concerns I might have and write about, the fundamental question that really confronts my heart is one of faith - in the goodness, wisdom and sovreignty of God. Ultimately, I must accept that while it is wise and prudent to think and plan ahead, whatever "preparation" I attempt to do in anticipation of the challenges of the future are perfunctory at best. There really is so very little of life that I (or any of us for that matter) have control over. I was reminded of this as I read the following verses in the book of Jeremiah this morning on the way to the 10 AM service at Willingdon:

    "Thus says the Lord:
    Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the Lord.
    He is like a shrub in the desert
    and shall not see any good to come.
    He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in the uninhabited salt land.

    Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
    He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
    and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
    and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:5-8, ESV)

    May God plant and establish me as such a tree, as I set out on the road into the next decade. I pray this in Christ's name.
- The Wisdom Seeker