Did you hear about the frog who called the “psychic hotline?” The “psychic” predicted, “You will meet a beautiful young woman who will want to know all about you.” Thrilled, the frog said, “That is great! Will I meet her at a party?” The advisor said, “No.” You’ll meet her in a college freshman biology class.” Are you interested in the future? Businessman C. F. Kettering (1876-1958) said, “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” He’s right in a sense. All of us will spend the rest of our earthly lives in the future. Why? Because time itself is dynamic, not stagnant. It is like a slow but steady river that moves along second by second, carrying us with it. We are constantly if not always consciously being moved along. The future quickly becomes the past. As one wit noted, “Two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday.” And so, from ticktock to ticktock to ticktock, the seconds add up to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and before you know it, the years turn into decades. Sooner or later, most of us find ourselves pondering and asking out loud that age-old question, “Where did the time go?” And that expression reminds me of this insight by Austin Dobson: “Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go.” But, alas, where do we go from here? More on that at the end of this piece.
We are about to enter the brand new year of 2024! Concerning this coming year, the Bible jerks us down a notch or two from any over-confident predictions about all it will bring, as if we are in complete control of our lives. Three thousand years ago Solomon urged in Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” The New Testament echoes that old but undeniable wisdom in James 4:13-17: “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.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” None of this is to say that we should not live with an eye to the future, even our future here on earth. Even ants know to gather provisions in the summertime so they can survive the winter (Proverbs 6:7-8)! Yet, we cannot with total accuracy predict what even this day might bring forth. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we really don’t know what will happen an hour from now. Not in the ultimate sense. The average adult will take about 23,000 breaths today, and God Almighty holds all of them in His hands (Daniel 5:23). Now, as to where we go when we come to the end of our time in this life, Hebrews 9:27 allows us to predict with certainty, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” This being true, the Bible urges us, in words from Amos 4:12, “Prepare to meet your God …!” Ben Franklin is credited with saying “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” There is no area of life where that is more true than our spiritual lives. May we all continually use each day this year to prepare for our future in eternity by faithfully living for Christ.