Do Not Worry about the Future

I am good at not living in the present. I am often in the past, reminiscing and idealizing the good days, or regretting and wishing away the bad and difficult ones. I am also often in the future, a future that for better and worse, is filled with way more questions than answers. What will it hold? Should I look forward to it, or should I fear it?

More often than not, I am borrowing trouble. Sometimes, I am not. As a Seventh Day Adventist, my relationship with the future gets even messier. On one hand, I look forward to it with hope and joyful expectation, looking forward to the day when the Lover of My Soul will return and all things will be redeemed. But on the other hand, I wonder what horrors wait between the now and the second coming. It doesn’t help that my Adventist culture has focused on those horrors, filling my imagination more with beasts and harlots than with the Lamb that was Slain. Ultimately, this leads me, and you, to the age old, well known question every Adventist asks himself at least once a day: am I ready? Will I be able to stand firm when the world around me is falling apart? Many of us, when taking a good look at ourselves in the mirror, do not like the answer.

So, what are we to do?

In reflecting on our fixation with the future, poet and theologian Wendell Berry writes the following: “all we can do to prepare rightly for tomorrow is to do the right thing today”. Why? Because I am not in tomorrow. I am living in the today, and today, and to be precise right now, is all I have power of choice and influence over. If I want to get to tomorrow ready, I must live ready today. Berry goes even further and boldly suggests: “maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it.” Again, what is he saying? Do not worry about tomorrow. Worry, or be occupied with, what today brings. Why? Because today is where you are. Whatever tomorrow is will be, to a great extent, decided by what you make of today. Do you get it? Do I? In this side of eternity, what tomorrow holds, to a great extent, up to how present in the present God has given you and I are. Of course, ultimately, God holds the future. The happy ending is his in all of our stories is his to write because of his sacrificial love on the cross and the empty tomb, with death defeated in it. But what is in between today and that happy ending depends on how I partner with my Creator and Redeemer today. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Today.

This is why Wendell Berry writes, echoing the words of Jesus himself: “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, because if it is not at hand, it is nowhere.” Simply put, the Gospel needs to be heard, received and take root in my life. Not yesterday or tomorrow, but today. “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”, writes Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2. All we can do is accept and walk with the God that comes close to us in the present, trusting that this walking will shape our tomorrow.

The takeaway is simple: do not worry about tomorrow. Be occupied with today. Why? Because the best way to be “ready” is to hold God’s hand today. 

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