Presuming upon the Future
In his book Seeking the Face of God, Gary Thomas recounts the story of William Nelson, a general serving in the Union Army during the Civil war. As he reposed in comfort, in a place seemingly safe and sheltered from the dangers of battle, this man found himself facing the reality of death, when an errant bullet entered into his his body draining in mere minutes the days, years, and a future life which up to that point he had presumed upon. In that moment, Thomas asks that we ponder the one final and desperate plea this man made when he realized his life was seconds away from ending, “Send for the clergy man; I wish to be baptized.” Caught unexpectedly at the gate of eternity, this man realized he had but a few precious seconds to accomplish all that mattered most in his life, and at that moment, everything took a back seat to preparing his heart to meet his maker.
In Psalm 90:12, A chapter in my Bible titled “A prayer of Moses, the man of God”, Moses implores “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” , and in James 4:14 James warns “Whereas ye know not what be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth way.” The truth about life is that in lite of eternity, our days on earth are limited and few, but even more important, their number is not guaranteed. Death isn’t a respecter of persons coming only for those who accomplished their fair share of success, wealth, purpose, or happiness, It snatches the old and the young, the “important” and the “insignificant”, the weak and the strong, The only restraint death knows comes from the hand of God and as scriptures says “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Heb 9:27 only God knows the day and hour.
As I read “Seeking the Face of God”, I was struck by the truth that often times we presume upon our future supposing we have years and even decades yet at our disposal and we live our life accordingly. Our priority’s are flipped upside down and we squander the day we live in assuming we have tomorrow in which to make it right. Thomas points out that “It is the only the denial of death that allows us to continue rebelling against God. It is only because we are presuming on some future time to set things right that we ever consider letting them go wrong.”
With balance and truth, we must consider this thought. As it is irresponsible of us to not allow the reality of our future and promised eternity to influence the present day in which we live, it would be just as irresponsible of us to stop providing for our family, caring for our body, paying bills, going to work……. thinking “what’s the use tomorrow I may die.” We have to place our dutys and responsibilities, our physical/worldly callings, as well as our spiritual calling in light of the fact that today may be our last opportunity to get “it” done, to do “it” right.
As a twenty seven year old single woman, I wish I had come across this truth. I have to confess that as I fought to trust the Lord, my focus was on a future I both longed for and feared. By this I mean I focused upon something I desired, expected, and presumed (most days) I would eventually get- Marriage. At the same time however, I was immobilized by a fear that kept me from gleaning all I could from each day the Lord gave me, fearing that one wrong choice or action would close that door of marriage forever. I was focusing on the future, but not far enough into the future and not upon a truth or calling capable of motivating, fulfilling, empowering, or convicting me like I needed. I had no idea if marriage was indeed a calling the Lord was going to grant me, but there was another calling he had given “Be ye holy, even as I am Holy” I Pet 1:16
If you are a woman, who like me looks(looked) for guidance and direction as you travel the uncertain road of singleness (or insert whatever season you are in) wondering if you are headed in the right direction, adequately preparing for what lies ahead, let me encourage you to take stock of where you have allowed your gaze to linger and fall upon. If your gaze is where it should be, upon “Eternity”, and reaching the place where you are prepared to meet Christ without any regrets or shame, all else will fall in line. If every decision, opportunity, fear, failure & triumph is viewed in the context of the death of my flesh and my transformation into the presence of Christ I can be confident I will respond, recover, and wisely make the right decisions. If I dare to ask moment by moment whether what I am doing prepares me spiritually to meet Christ or instead diminishes my impact for Christ and impoverishes my spiritual calling, then I will find the wisdom to make the right decisions and motivation to do what is not only best for me, but for others, and for Christ..
Our eminent death can empower us with great motivation and resolve or we can ignore the truth of the uncertainty of life, and find ourselves utterly shocked and filled with regret and shame when one day soon we realize heaven looms just minutes or seconds away.
Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Learn to shed the cares, concerns, worries, and trifles that do nothing to usher you closer to the presence of God and the finish line he has appointed for you to cross. Ask for wisdom to discern between “the Needful” Luke 10:42 which can not be taken from you, and the trivial and hollow distractions that will blind you from seeking and finding the face of God where you can bask in the peace and power of his presence.
That I may know Him,
And the power of His resurrection,
And the fellowship of His Sufferings,
Being made conformable unto His death.
SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD by Gary Thomas (Harvest House Publishers 1999)
Scripture quotations were taken from the KJV Bible