The Future

My dad came home from the hospital.  He had been given a walker.  I remember him learning how to get along with it.  Early on, I heard him lament, “ I did not think it would come to this!”  That was a good thing.  Daddy only needed to feel the feelings that went along with going through that experience just the one time.  

My tendency throughout the years has been to think way too much about the future.  That is changing for me and I am glad.  The thing about the future is that it does not exist.  There is no meat and bones on the future.  Every bit of it is imaginary.  The only objection to this conclusion about the future is that something will happen in the future — but then, at that time, it is the present and not the future.  

Anytime you are thinking about the future and are concerned or even anxious; then you are giving yourself the displeasure of living through what you are concerned about two times if it comes about.  If what you are concerned about does not happen then your are living through something unhappy that you did not have to be unhappy about at all.  We are our own worst enemies when we chose this path.  It makes no sense at all. 

The circumstances surrounding us for a year now have disrupted our lives to some extent — more for some and less for others.  In other words, the way we have done some things has changed and the way we have felt about our world has been challenged.  This disruption has thrown us a bit out of balance.  A fellow whose name was Piaget labeled this “disequilibrium”. 

When we were one year old we were living in constant disequilibrium because every minute was fraught with tremendous and I hasten to add, marvelously wonderful change.  Our faces were lite up with delight at all that change.  But we were out of balance and as we approached two years old we made sure everyone else was out of balance too.  Our parents were out of balance!  And when years passed our parents looked back on those days as being wonderful, forgetting all the disequilibrium.  

Learning to walk requires loosing you balance.  With each new step a small child takes, they have to intentionally throw themselves out of balance as they rock forward and then catch their balance.  They do this over and over until they learn to steady their balance.  When we get older and unsteady on our feet, we come to realize just how risky walking can be.  

I find humor in the barrage of headlines about what the future of church, social life, work, and so on and on is going to look like.  The prognosticators write their essays like they know what’s going to happen.  If anything, this last year has shown us, that we do not know what’s going to happen.   To be fair, speculation may be helpful if anticipating the future will help us prepare for the future; but the most helpful way to do that is to keep our emotional distance from what needs to remain analytical.   

Jesus said, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 CSB).  

Stephen Williams

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