This past month, my mind has swirled with questions…
- When do I buy a house? Where? What should my savings goals for 2017 be in order to accomplish them?
- When do I start classes to foster kids? Where? What would that look like with a roommate and a one-hour commute each way each weekday?
- When do I try to move forward with my career? Where? What if I’m not cut out for the career I’ve chosen?
- When do I find time to write? Where? What if my roommate never gets a job, and I’m never home alone to find time to write again?!
- When will I get married? Where? What can I do to speed up this process?
For a couple of weeks, I’d take my questions to God, and I’d give him the swirled jumble of my thoughts and emotions, and I’d know I was heard. But since He didn’t give me answers right away, I’d take the burden of them back upon myself and let them swirl around me and try to sort through them by myself.
I was basically trying to figure out my whole future, right now. And if not completely figure it out, at least figure out what I could do right now to work toward the future I want.
It was exhausting.
I didn’t even realize how exhausting it was until I read a passage in the book Core Christianity by Michael Horton. The book is about our place in the story of God. The final chapter is about “what now?” What do we do with our lives since Jesus has gone back to heaven and has not yet returned for the church?
In the story of God – the Gospel – God creates the world, including people; people sin and separate themselves from God; God sends Jesus to die, rise, and eliminate the separation between God and His people; we are born, live, and die; someday, Jesus will return to reign over the church (His people) for all eternity.
But we’re in that in-between time. We live between the “already” (Jesus has already made a way for us to be with God in heaven for eternity) and the “not yet” (Jesus has not yet returned to rule and reign in what the Bible calls the New Heaven and the New Earth).
Hang in there; I’m getting to my point now.
In Core Christianity, Mr. Horton explains that there are three prevailing viewpoints among Christians, concerning the purpose of our lives right now:
- Recognize that the world is going to burn anyway, so who cares about the world? People are the most important thing, so just evangelize (spread the word of the Gospel) as much as you can until you die.
- Try to fix the world. Oh my goodness, do I ever do this! Whenever I fix a typo or make something prettier or mark something off of my to-do list, I actually say, “I just made the world a better place.” I feel like the world is better off because that comma found a home or this spreadsheet now exists or that laundry got folded.
- Serve in the place where God has put us now. This, according to Mr. Horton, is the right response to our “already, not yet” place in God’s story.
This was a “Mind = Blown” moment for me, as I slowed down on the elliptical machine at the gym to re-read some paragraphs. You mean it’s not up to me to fix the world? You mean I don’t have to despair because I don’t have all the answers? You mean, if I serve the people God has put in my life right now, God will take care of my future?
I KNOW, those truths are super basic. I KNOW I’ve blogged about similar concepts before. But the reminder came right when I needed it. As I sped my workout back up, I realized that:
- I’d been trying to control my future, when the God of the universe – the God Who loved me enough to send His Son to die for me – already has it under control.
- I had been getting exhausted from my present circumstances because I’d been spending too much mental energy figuring out the future.
Neither of those things is healthy, according to the Bible. The Bible doesn’t instruct me to go figure out how to get a man, demand a raise, get frustrated at my finances, or even buy a house. The Bible instructs me to serve people; invest in the community He put me in; love my roommate and go out of my way for my coworkers; to “bloom where I’m planted” (so to speak).
As I left the gym and headed to Bible study (where I read several paragraphs to my Bible study women), I felt a weight lifted off. I don’t have to feel guilty about my past mistakes, because Jesus already paid for them. I don’t have to despair of my present because it’s not about me. And I don’t have to carry the burden of the future because my God already does.
So if you’re like me, and you feel like you have to fix the world (or whatever is in your direct influence); if you feel like you have to be working toward your best future now – please be as encouraged as I was with the thought that we are called to serve. Here. Now. With the resources God has given us.