The Future is a Fleeting Shadow

Contemplating the future is what humans do every day. We’re very good at existing in the present, but not living in the present. Occasionally I become morose when I sit and watch people. I wonder about their futures. I wonder whether or not they know God.

                I should stop thinking about this because my spirit starts to bleat with agony. This non-physical part of my being recognizes what is to come, but my mind fails to find the words for it. In the end, physically I feel fear and mentally I know something is wrong. This sense of dread comes from the knowledge of God’s eminent judgment and wrath. That day will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10).

                A future without Jesus. Birth to death and all those days in between. My mind begins to contort with the same demanding thoughts: what is the point of a life without Jesus? You probably go to school for a little while and learn and then you work all the time to feed your body and take care of yourself. Maybe a family comes along. You grow old, your eyes whiten, and you die on a day that is quiet and unforgiving. Tell me, I beg you, what is the reason for this? Why do humans just keep pressing on if there is no feasible goal? Only death waits for us. Only death is the one guarantee.

                A future without Jesus. If I weren’t so exhausted right now I’d be upset all over again. That’s like saying you can have everything you’ve ever wanted except for water. No water to drink. Who would want to live without the Living Water? In fact, having no water at all means death.

                I know what it looks like to live without Jesus. I saw it this week. In a previous post I mentioned a girl named Jenny Flint. Despite her Doctor Who character alias she is a real person and I had the unfortunate privilege of watching her break down this week. Earlier in the day she’d been ranting, quite animatedly, to me and my other friend Pond. Jenny spoke about her awful, abhorrent step mother who exacted mental abuse on Jenny and her younger siblings. Jenny talked about her dad and his degenerative nerve/muscle disease. She lamented about her sister who had recently begun taking anti-depressant medication to cope with the appalling living situation at home.

                Jenny said that her father couldn’t afford divorce. She explained that she’d have to drop out of college for her father to be able to afford a legal divorce from this serpent-like step mother. Jenny slammed her fist on the table several times and raised her voice. She cursed and whipped her arms around even when the table next to us was starting to look over. Pond and I listened hardly ever getting a word in and having all suggestions of advice energetically shot down by Jenny. It was an impossible situation. No reason or prompting satisfied her.

                We closed the dreadful discussion with dessert before heading out. I went along to my Christian fellowship while Pond and Jenny went to Renaissance club. It is a ritual during the week and I have grown accustomed to it. During the fellowship meeting, the leader spoke about God drawing near to brokenhearted people. He read a passage in Mark, but the specific scripture is not important. Jesus spent most of his time healing people, teaching and forcing out demons. That’s what he did on a typical day.

                It’s odd to think that the man who had been lame for thirty eight years was suddenly blessed for his circumstances because of a lone man from Galilee who happened to meet him. Jesus of course was the man from Galilee and he healed the man of his lameness and sent him home with his mat in arm (John 5:5-9).

                It puzzles me to celebrate weakness and misfortunes, but God loves these things…because that’s when he makes us realize how much we need him. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

                The fellowship meeting concluded and I reclined with some fellow humans and enjoyed a routine bout of making weird jokes and expressing anxieties. A gentle tugging at my hair brought my attention to Pond who hovered above me. She told me that she and Jenny were waiting outside the auditorium. She left and I did a mental shrug. I went on talking in my care-free state and was happy for it.

                Another friend of mine soon came round and poked at me saying that Pond and Jenny were waiting for me outside of the auditorium. This time I frowned. In a moment she added that Jenny was in some sort of state. Then I realized and was on my feet and abruptly excused from the conversations. I exited the auditorium to find Pond holding Jenny. Jenny had her body mangled into a fetal position her hands pressed hard against her face as she wept silently. Her small frame shook and her teeth were strangely set into a smile as she experienced the pain that comes from indecision and hopelessness.

                Pond explained to me that the conversation earlier had caught up to Jenny. She was now crying about the instability of her life. I did not feel much, but I shook my head. Jenny sat up and composed herself somewhat. I looked at her and said how strange it was that Jenny would be here at this exact moment in time right after a message regarding God drawing near to brokenhearted people. I turned and gave her a sharp look. I asked her if that situation sounded familiar…being brokenhearted…having one’s life in shambles…

                Jenny only stared at me in silence. I told her that she always chased around my thoughts during these fellowship meetings. I’d sit and try to listen, but habitually Jenny would appear in my mind’s eye like a wandering spirit. At one point I even imagined all the people in the room turning into Jenny. Collectively they turned to look at me with this expectant expression on their faces.

                I can’t imagine it well some times. Sympathy in this particular area has grown dismal and hard of clarity. I have been with God and his son for so long that I forget what it is like to be an orphan. An orphan who tries to carry all of her problems, all of her failures and sins, all of her emotional turmoil, all of her treacherous thoughts. I still do these things at different times and to different extents. I’m saying more precisely that I have trouble with that level of suffering in combination with a disbelief in God. Not acknowledging him or speaking to him in prayer strikes me as the worst thing one can experience. The soul is cut off from its life line and it writhes in pain.

                I don’t know what unbelievers look forward to. In fact I think they don’t. The future is to be spent as the past was: a time for pleasure and ignoring so much trauma that your nightmares contain more honesty than your own conscious mind.

                Why would you ever treat another person kindly? Why would you follow a law of any kind? Why should you consider anyone else’s thoughts? In the world with its logic it says you should be kind to other people, but it can never sufficiently explain why. It’s such a sad thing, but when the world actually turns out a wise thought like treating others lovingly all I can think is the reasoning for this is the world trying to seek God. Love, forgiveness, peace and honesty all starve in the world. When humans seek these things, good things, they’re drawing near to God without realizing it. Two things happen here:

                “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16

                “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

                So even if you do not truly know God, if you live in love, you do know God. Love is not a feeling though. If you’re confused about what love is please refer to this scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Love is an action and it always has been.                 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

                “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

                Do you see? Both of these instances tell us that love is SHOWN. It is not FELT. Happiness and lust are feelings. Most songs and relationships revolve around these two EMOTIONS which are poisonous as they confuse and muddle the true definition of love (not to mention lust is a sin). You can say a thousand times to Sunday that you love someone, but the moment you make those words true is when you do right by the person: treat her kindly, help her, console her, forgive her. That is love.

                Our night came to a close with me laying on the floor of Jenny’s bedroom asking her if I could pray for her. I wanted to pray together and aloud. I didn’t want to offer some ineffectual comment that I would pray for Jenny later. That’s a nice thought, but I wanted more. I craved for her to know exactly what I was praying for. I wanted her to know how much God loves her. If only the timing had been right…I could have explained God made her and she is beautiful to him. No…the timing just…she refused my offer and my heart fell.

                I know that God makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), but I’m not a patient one to wait for that time. Jenny’s situation frustrates me, but what truly upsets me is that she is relying on herself to get through it. Look how far that got her. She’s in this horrible situation and nothing is changing. Meanwhile her anger and anxiety increases with each day.

                We always do this. We always do what is wrong for us to do (Romans 7:15). It reinforces the precious blood of Christ because every day is an onslaught of offense toward God and his perfection. It is offensive to God that a weak human would try to carry her own sin and mistakes. That she’d try to help herself by her own means. Does that ever seem to work out very well? I’m my own worst enemy may be a cliché, but I’m being very serious about that statement. I hate myself often because I am the one who sets the traps and I am the one who falls into them.

                No one else can be blamed.

                The unbelieving life is one that is torturous, uncertain and directionless. Every plan is like a wisp of smoke before it disappears in the air. There’s no rest for the wicked. If you believe in Jesus, not religion, you will find rest for your souls.

                “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30

                If you’d like to pretend that you don’t need help and that you get along just fine in your incessant misery then that is just fine. The sick need a doctor not the healthy (Mark 2:17, Matthew 9:12, Luke 5:31). If you actually think you’re healthy, meaning you don’t need God in your life, then I feel bad for you. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

                To those who believe in Christ your hearts can rest easy. My words fail to catch his majesty so why don’t you read it for yourself? To the brokenhearted your brother and father beseech you:

                “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” Psalm 34:18-20 (not one of Christ’s bones were broken, John 19:36)

                “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

                “‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3

                What is so amazing about the Isaiah verse above is that it is talking about Christ. It’s saying that when he comes he will set people free from darkness. How do I know this?

                “He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:21

                Jesus can set you free from the consequence of sin. I recommend you accept this free gift because otherwise your future is meaningless. It really is. Your toil is meaningless.

                “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem (this is Solomon): ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north, round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.” Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

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