The future is a hard place to peer into sometimes.
I get why Jesus said that today has sufficient trouble without worrying about the future added on to it. Dreaming about the future and the good things that await in it is fine and all, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it – how is my major going to get me a job, and what should I major in, anyway, and where am I going to live and how many kids am I going to have (also, when am I going to meet my husband?) and how are we going to pay for it all and–
Jesus told you and me not to worry, but I know I disobey that daily – hourly – minute-ly.
But we forget about His faithfulness, constantly.
Walking with God – and increased faithfulness and steadfastness in Him – is simply time with God. There is no speeding up of the process of getting to know God and discovering your relationship with Him. If our journeys on Earth are seen as a road, then the longer we walk with Him, the more there is to see when you look back, and the more clearly you can point to your sufferings and say, “You were there, Lord.”
There’s a new album by an artist called Steffany Gretzinger, called The Undoing, that is ministering to my heart, among many others. I can’t recommend this music enough to you – just go listen.
There are verses in two of her songs that cause me to stop and wonder at God’s faithfulness: in “Morning Song”- “And I can feel the rising of the sun / and mercy sings me the promise of Your love / and I’m reminded of how far we’ve come / You’re the One that my heart is beating for” and in “Out of Hiding” – “And oh, as you run / what hindered love / will only become / part of the story”
The Lord’s redemptive motion is all over our lives, no matter where we are or how far we have wandered. He is both behind us and before us; he is at once leading us forward and in pursuit of us. The longer you walk with Him, the more clearly we can see the mastery of His handiwork, and the more heaven on earth we can see.
C. S. Lewis sums this up perfectly, in one of my favorite quotes from my very favorite book:
They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me but have this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already confirms his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.
C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
That is the glorious, beautiful, mysterious work of God over our lives – He can redeem everything, even the darkest of pasts, where we in human form and within boundaries of time cannot turn back to change. He can do that, and He desires to do that work within us. Our rescue happens with a simple yes; our redemption of every part of ourselves to Him comes only with time, a lot of time, walking with God.
This is why learning grace is so very important – grace for others (“be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”), but also simple grace for yourself, no matter where on the road you might be. Please, friend, don’t be frustrated with yourself for not “getting” things about walking with God or feeling like you aren’t running at the same speed as your peers. Do not hate yourself when you’re overwhelmed with anxiety about your future and do not give up when you find yourself slipping into the same old sin. There is enough grace for all of this, and I am still learning that. Take it from the girl who led worship at her church but still had anxiety over whether she was actually saved or not every time she went on a youth group retreat – God is at work in you, even at the most pathetic, depressing, or gloomy of times.
May God reveal His faithfulness to us on the road. May we be able to look back and see His fingerprints on everything, but may we also not forget the dark times – may all this suffering be used to light the way for others.