In a few hours I’ll be heading to Columbia, Missouri, taking my son to see the University of Missouri. It seems like such a strange thing to be doing. I can’t believe my baby will be graduating in a few months and heading off to college. But there is a time for everything, and it seems his time has come.
As things change, seemingly more quickly each year, I find myself wondering if I am ready for the next change, if I am ready to face all that will come my way. I find myself anticipating what is to come, trying to prepare myself, only to realize that the anxiety of the unknown has become my companion. What is there to do?
We have always wanted to know the future, to know what is coming. Even if we consulted a fortune teller or some other type of spiritualist (which I’m not suggesting), there is no way to know what is coming. We can plan for possibilities, but only God knows what will happen. Jesus knew this truth, which is why he stated, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
I suppose one could take Jesus’ words to the extreme and not do anything to plan for the future, but that is not where Jesus was heading. His emphasis was, as it remains, that our attention be continually placed on the known rather than the unknown, that is, on the God we know rather than the future we don’t know.
Consider the story of the farmer who had a bumper crop. Impressed with his good fortune, he tore down his barns to make room for newer, larger storage buildings to hold everything from his fields. After the construction and the harvest, he said, “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
However, God had another plan. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
Was it wrong to build new barns to hold his surplus? Not at all. His foolishness wasn’t in building new barns to provide for his future but in hoarding the surplus, not considering from whose hand he received such a blessing. “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).
James expressed a similar sentiment:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ (James 4:13-15).
We can’t know what tomorrow will hold. Our lives could change drastically or they could remain the same for a long time, but whatever happens, we can live free from fear and anxiety only if the foundation of who we are is God alone.
The way to not be controlled by the anxiety of the future is to concentrate on God’s will today, on what God is doing in our lives, and to recognize that, no matter what happens, as long as our lives are hidden in God, we will find victory and peace. Keep your eyes and your hearts on God, so that whatever comes you will find strength to overcome.
I don’t know where Donny will go to college, and I don’t know what will happen when he gets there. I can’t tell you what my children will become or whether I will ever retire. But I can tell you this: My goal is to be prepared for anything by being prepared spiritually, concentrating on the most important thing in my life, the One who died for me.