by Barry Newton
The details of our future, even what lies just around the corner, are many: How long will my employment situation remain the same? What about health, finances, and family relationships? The list can go on and on.
While at times we might feel like the master of our destiny or a hapless cork caught in a storm swept sea, by peering into Paul’s imprisonment we discover our grasp upon controlling our future is neither. In fact, his prison letter to the Philippian church can teach us about living on the edge of a foggy future.
Wearing Roman shackles, Paul certainly was not the master of his circumstances. Would tomorrow herald exoneration and freedom from captivity or would the government take his life? Yet Paul could exude a confidence about the future which provided him with peace in the present.
Our situation may not be as dramatic as his, but the fundamental question is the same. What will tomorrow bring?
The key for managing the future involves possessing something which can be relied upon tomorrow. Many people try to build a tomorrow by reducing their risk and creating a reliable foundation through insurance companies and investment firms. While the track record of such institutions has tended to be reliable, we have also seen there is no guarantee.
Paul’s future planning pierced even beyond the grave. He looked to Christ crucified and risen again. Regardless whether he lived or died, he would win.
Furthermore, even though there was no guarantee about what awaited him, Paul felt confident he would be released. Why? There were Christians praying for him and Christ’s Spirit could impact what would happen.
While at times we might be deluded into confidently perceiving ourselves controlling tomorrow, a sudden car wreck, a health crisis or economic upheaval suddenly exposes our weakness. On the other hand, because of Christ, neither do we face the future with uncertainty. We can know whose we are and where our destiny lies. In this there is peace.