"Our LORD, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won't let us fall." -- Psalms 55:22 (CEV)
Can We Go Back to the Future?
By Jennifer E. Jones
I am a quintessential child of the ‘80s. My growing up is nothing but E.T., Michael Jackson and stonewashed jeans.
So, naturally I love ‘80s movies. This past weekend, I caught Back to the Future II, the second installment in one of my favorite movie series. It starts in 1985. The brilliant yet quirky Doc (Christopher Lloyd) takes Marty (Michael J. Fox) and his girlfriend into the year 2015 to help their wayward future children. Oh, it’s quite a trip.
Like all ‘80s films set in the future, it’s really interesting to see what we thought life past 1999 would look like. Man, were we off.
I can’t truly speculate on what’s going to happen in the next eight years, but I can wager a guess that we won’t have flying cars. There won’t be hover-boards. We won’t wear nearly as much metal in everyday fashion.
Hollywood is not the only one to make such grossly inaccurate portrayals of future events. I find I do it every day. We all do. We all like to think that we’ve got the future pegged. After all, it’s how we live our lives. We go to work expecting to be paid every two weeks. If you’re like me and my mother, we buy holiday cards at discount prices in January fully expecting Christmas to roll around in 12 months.
We base the future on either the past or our active imaginations.
Most of what we think the future will be like is based on the past. It’s not a problem with most things (i.e., you go to the Bahamas this year because you remember how much fun you had on your honeymoon). However, a bad experience can make you believe that certain areas of your future are unsafe. Talk to someone who was bitten by a dog when he or she was a child. Their anxiety level could go through the roof at the sight of another dog… even if it’s a Chihuahua. Or worst yet, if you’ve been cheated on by a spouse, you’re much more likely to be fearful of a future suitor’s intentions. Because of this, we have legions of people walking around in some mild form of post-traumatic stress – circling the same block every day because they’re scared of crossing the street.
Then, there are those who dream up what they think the future will be and plan accordingly. They have grand imaginations, and they worry about the hypothetical. They’ve never even been to the Bahamas, but imagine every possible disaster from plane crashes to hurricanes. They never leave their house for fear of not what they’ve already been through, but the uncertainty of the unknown.
The sad thing is that the vast majority of things we worry about never happen. Why? Because they’re all based on our idea of what the future will hold, and the bottom line is that we can’t predict anything. We don’t know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next.
Jesus said, “Fear not”, a lot of times in the Bible because He knew how prone we are to faulty foretelling. He could see inside the mind of every troubled person, and He could find the faith that’s buried under a thousand worst-case-scenarios.
When I start thinking too much about the future and the imaginary obstacles that lie ahead, God reminds me of this verse, Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV).
This coming year and the next will hold troubles and sorrows that you can’t even imagine. But on the other hand, it will bring joy and happiness beyond your expectations. So in this Jesus was saying to leave the future alone. Actually, it's none of your concern.
My campus pastor when I was in college used to say this quote all the time: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I’m sure he borrowed it from someone else, but the words resonate with truth. This moment right now is all you have control over. It’s the only thing your brain can truly know. You can’t change the past, and you don’t know for certain what the future holds. So if you concentrate on fully embracing your present situation as you can see it right now, you’ll find the weight of the world is a lot lighter than you think. Plus, being in the moment will help you cherish the now, which is far more enjoyable than worrying about the tomorrow.
We can’t go back to the future. It would be nice to pile into a Delorean and zoom ahead to see if our fears and dreams come true. But that’s not possible outside of Steven Spielberg’s imagination. We can’t even see around the corner. The best thing we can do is place ourselves fully in the moment and cast our cares upon God. There’s no safer place to be.
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