Confession time (James 5:16). There have been periods during my forty-three-year sojourn that I have experienced a certain apprehension about the future (Mark 9:24). As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve not always taken the “Christian perspective” in regard to my days (Psalms 90:12). “Fearful” – yes; “faithful” – no.
I have occasionally fantasized about how much easier and nicer life would be if…dare I say it…if I wielded control over the future. If I, in some God-like fashion, could keep tomorrow and all its attendant circumstances under my tight supervision. I would be master of my environment. I would manage my surroundings – controlling where I live, how I live (i.e., my standard of living), what I buy, where I go, what happens to me, etc. (Did you notice all of those personal pronouns)? “And Mike said…” and it would be so (cf. Genesis 1). Life would be according to my script – with no anxiety, no uncertainty, no trepidation.
Well, experience has been something of a “tutor”. Newspaper headlines and untimely events continue to remind me that physical security is fleeting at best and subject to fluctuation (Job 1:13-2:7; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). I’m not in control of tomorrow, nor will I ever be. Mike is Mike; God is God – and each of us has different roles and functions – mine is to learn faith and trust (Matthew 14:31; Hebrews 11:6a); God’s is to oversee and determine my days (Daniel 4:35). I like the way one author illustrates these truths:
“Imagine two fight-type aircraft three feet apart in tight formation through a wide range of maneuvers. Perhaps you have seen the Thunderbirds do this at five hundred miles an hour.
Now picture the return to base for landing. These aircraft can fly in tight formation all the way to touchdown. When the weather is poor, landing becomes a little ‘hairy’. Let me explain.
These two aircraft in the clouds have about twenty feet of visibility. They fly very close, and the lead pilot just looks at his instruments. The number two pilot just looks at lead. When they approach the field, the two pilots will, on signal from the lead, lower the landing gear, and together the aircraft change pitch like a porpoise in the water. Because the number two pilot is looking out the side of the aircraft instead of straight ahead, his sensory perception gives him funny signals at he decelerates and the nose pitches up and down. Sometimes he feels as if he is in ninety degrees of bank when he is wings-level with the horizon. Now if he shifts his focus from lead to the cockpit, he could easily either slide into lead or away from lead in the clouds close to the ground. Either could be disastrous. What we as instructors had to burn into the memory of students learning to fly in bad weather is to trust lead no matter how scary it feels. ‘Your job,’ we would say, ‘is to follow lead and stay in position; his job is to make a safe approach.’ But this is tough when you feel as if the plane is in a steep bank and about to crash. It involves focus and trust.” /1
1. Trusting God with my future is like formation flying in a fighter jet. It involves following His lead no matter how scary it feels at times. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength…” (Habakkuk 3:17-19a).
2. My job is to focus on the here and now – today. “See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16; cf. Matthew 6:11).
3. God is responsible for my future. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that'” (James 4:13-15). He wants me to relax about the days ahead and trust Him. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-32,11; cf. Psalms 31:1, 9; Proverbs 3:5-6).
/1 Doug Sherman, “Holding Your Career with a Light Touch,” Keeping Your Head Up When Your Job’s Got You Down, p. 108).