My dear Future,
You’ve been bothering me again in recent months, invading my thoughts. I’d thought I’d dealt with you in my last letter, but I suppose I’ll need to deal with you in some manner for the rest of my life. But we’ve really got to stop doing this. Don’t pretend you’re innocent.
“What about tomorrow?” you constantly whisper. “What about next week, next month, next decade?”
What about when one of my roommates gets married later this month? It’s going to be so good but so sad since she’s become one of my dearest friends and will (understandably) be moving out.
What about when the new roommate moves in? What will that be like?
Questions. Questions. Questions.
All you bring up is questions, Future.
Questions about when my church is going to be strong enough to start planting other churches. I wonder who God will call to go and when. My best friends? Me? Where will we be sent first?
Questions about my small group. When will we be able to multiply (split from one big group into two smaller groups)? Which group will God call me to? Which friends will I stay with, which ones will I separate from?
Questions about tomorrow and later this week. Will they be smooth days? Or will I be on the rocks, fighting off spiritual attack and barely riding out the growing pains of my soul?
And what about when more of my friends start dating? What then?? What will that be like? How will Jesus sanctify us all through that process? What about me? What if I were to start dating? What if I never date? How will this look, what will it be like? Will I be able to honor Jesus with it, or will it be a struggle where I refuse to lay down my will?
Future, you’re spitting out questions like crazy. My attention is often on you, Future (which is probably all part of your plan). You inspire creeping fear. You demand a plan for every eventuality and especially the impossibilities. You demand I prepare. You demand that I always be thinking of what’s to come, forgetting what’s right in front of my face.
I won’t play your game.
I’ll think of Eternity, but not you, Future. (Oh, yes, I see the difference now. Screwtape told me the difference between Eternity and you, Future, so now you don’t get to hide in ambiguity.*)
I’ll think about when I get to be face to face with my beloved Jesus. But no more questions about tomorrow or next week or what might be to come. I will look forward to what is sure—Eternity, life forever with Jesus, but that’s it, Future.
I’ve been built and called to hope for heaven, for Eternity, for Jesus.
But I exist in this moment, in this day. I live in the Present, not you, Future.
I will not survive the Present until Future hopes and fears do or do not come to pass.
I will not survive the Present even just to make it to Eternity’s golden shores.
Today is the day my Lord has made. This moment is the moment my Lord has made. I will rejoice in it. I will live it.
Right now is where I am, and right now is where I will all be. Not hands in the present and eyes on you, Future. No, instead: hands in the Present, eyes on Jesus, heart fixed on what he’s doing today.
Today’s joys and pleasures—simple and wild and mundane as they are.
Today’s battles and responsibilities.
Everything I’m given today is good. I don’t expect and get goodness only in you, Future. I get good things now, today, every day.
I’m forgetting you, Future.
Yes, I’ll pray for the things to come—the friends to be saved into Jesus’ everlasting kingdom, the sanctification the Holy Spirit will continue to bring about in me, and all such good things. But my heart, my attention, isn’t fixed on you, oh Future. My mind and attention are no longer yours to play with. My heart, my mind, my attention are no longer stuck on next month’s small group multiplication or 2022’s church plant. Not next year’s boyfriend or next decade’s singleness. Not tomorrow’s growth or next week’s grief.
So, you can shut your mouth, Future. I’m going deaf to you and all your questions because I trust my Jesus and I want what he’s giving me today.
I’ve been given today; I’m living every moment of today.
p.s. – yeah, kids, I’m finally back at the ol’ blog. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, only that it seemed like God was nudging me to get back into the game. So here I am.
p.p.s. – you can check out the original open letter that I wrote in 2018 to my dear future shortly before I announced that I was moving to Texas.
*In one of C.S. Lewis’s towering Screwtape Letters, he addresses the difference between being fixed on/hoping for Eternity and being obsessed with/a slave to the Future. He distinguishes Eternity and Future from each other by saying that being preoccupied with Eternity is being preoccupied with Jesus while fixating on the Future is more of being consumed with what could happen in this life—expecting things to get “better” at some vaporous Future date, fearing things will get worse, etc..
This distinction has been personally incredibly helpful because focus on Eternity reveals solid hope and faith while my fixation on the Future reveals fear and lack of trust. Both are forward-thinking, but one is far more helpful than the other.