God controls the future (Revelation 1:8, Psalm 135:13, Psalm 145:13). God didn’t ask permission from me, of course, but I’m glad he is in charge. It isn’t a job for boys.
God controls your future. Not only does God control the future in general, but he controls your future in particular (Psalm 91:1-4, Mathew 6:25-26). Most people believe, although they wouldn’t admit it, that God himself is confused about the future—that, when bad things happen, he is as frightened by them as we are and that, when we sin, he is surprised. Not so. God’s knowledge and control of the future is total. Nothing is going to happen to me that surprises him, and I’m not going to do anything that will shock him.
So I don’t have to tell God how to answer my prayers. Although it sometimes seems that we believe prayer is a time when we advise God on how he should run the world, it isn’t. Prayer is a child going to a Father with praise and petition—cries for his intervention, not diagrams for his action (1 Peter 5:7). God is more than capable of controlling our future without our help.
The future God controls is bright (1 Peter 5:6, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Jude 24).
In Revelation 21:1-4, there is an exciting picture of the future:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We are going to go through some rough times, but we are going to love the future. Jesus put it this way: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
If those biblical foundations for the future are true, there are several implications…
Survival is Not the Only Value
Survival is not the only or even the most important value. Paul said, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).
Most of us really don’t believe that. If we did, we would not make the specter of death so horrible. But let me show you what has happened to death: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
That is what Jesus Christ has done with death. On the cross, he removed the stinger. How? By nailing our sin (sin being the reason we must die) on the cross. We don’t ever have to be guilty again. More than that, we don’t ever have to worry about death again. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Because the stinger is gone, death can no longer harm you.
Even Christians forget that survival is not the only value. Death is a reality; you cannot escape; the statistic is one out of one. But for the Christian, death is just a transition, and funeral services become graduation exercises. The dream of living forever is not really a dream.
Pain is Not the Ultimate Liability
Since God is in charge of a bright future, pain is not the ultimate liability. Paul writes: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). The problem with hell is not its pain, but its length. You can stand anything if you know that it comes to an end, but hell is forever. For the Christian, nothing painful is forever. The time will come when all pain—physical, spiritual, and psychological—will be erased from the blackboard, and God will chalk up JOY.
There is a lot of pain in life, sometimes unbearable. But the pain is not without a purpose. Whatever the purpose, the time will come when God says, “All right, now try those wings.” And then we will fly, and the pain that seemed so terrible will be but a passing dream. “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). If you are a Christian and you dream of a time when you won’t have to suffer so much, don’t stop dreaming. Some day that dream will become reality.
Popularity is Not the Crucial Measurement
Not only that. Popularity is not the crucial measurement. When Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy, he didn’t tell him how to win friends and influence people. He said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
We so need human approval. All my life I have felt that I would die if I couldn’t be accepted and approved by the “right” people. The Father is healing me of that sin, and the reason he bothered is that he knew that if I didn’t get healed, I would end up selling my soul in bits and pieces. You find yourself, if you live your life for the approval of others, in the horrible predicament of being without the approval you so desired, and without the convictions you sacrificed in order to get that approval.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are accepted in a club, invited to a party, or praised by the world. God knows. His acceptance is more important than a permanent room in the hotel of the inner circle. The old spiritual says it properly: “When I’ve done the best I can, and my friends misunderstand, Thou, who knowest all about me, stand by me.” God’s acceptance and approval are more than just a dream; they are reality…both now and forever into the future.
Action is Not a Meaningless Protest
Since God is in charge of a bright future, action is not a meaningless protest. Paul, in speaking of the Christian’s victory over death, draws the following conclusion: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Someone has said that to fight and lose for a noble cause is better than to fight and win for an ignoble cause. That sounds good but it isn’t true. If you fight for a noble cause and ultimately lose, the fighting was foolish in the first place. But the God who is in charge has made sure that no fight for any noble cause will ever ultimately fail.
This is the statement every Christian should make to the world: The cause for which we stand will never die. Atheism, humanism, materialism, and paganism may seem so strong that any action is no more than a protest in the dark. But keep moving ahead, because the God who is in charge of the future will vindicate every action done in his name. Every time you stand for him, every time you act in love or reach out in compassion, every tear you shed for the oppressed, every act of justice, every word of witness, will make an impact. The God who controls the future will see to it.
If you dream of a time when all the books will be balanced, you keep on dreaming, and some day the dream will become a reality. The God who is in charge of the future has promised.
History is Not a Dead End
And finally, history is not a dead end. At the Ascension, Luke records: “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11).
When history comes to an end, when Jesus comes back to clean up the mess, his people are going to shine. He has promised.
If you are a Christian, you have read the last chapter and you know how the book ends. That is exciting, and it is reason enough to risk for the cause of Christ. If you dream of a time when the earth will be free, and justice will be perfect, and men will be good, you should keep on dreaming. It is a dream that will some day be a reality.
Perhaps you have heard of the farmer who didn’t plant any wheat because he was afraid it wouldn’t rain, and who didn’t plant any corn because he was afraid of corn blight. In fact, he didn’t plant anything, because he wanted to be safe. A lot of people are like that farmer—playing it safe, afraid to risk or change or stand. You don’t have to play it safe. You are already safe. That is the good news of the Christian faith. The future is yours, because the future is God’s.
We can tell the world: God has started something in this world. You may not like it; you may laugh at it; you may think it is insignificant—but you can’t stop it. Someday God is going to close the last page in the history book, and the trumpet will sound. Then the only important question will be: Whose side are you on? Decide now. It will be too late then.
God is a big God. He is in charge. And best of all, he loves you…into the future.
Time to Draw Away
Read Jeremiah 29:11-13 & Isaiah 41:10
What kind of future do you envision for yourself, for your family and for the world? In what places are you afraid to risk, change and stand? Remember that God is sovereign and loves you. You are guarded and guided by his grace. So whatever is to come, your future is bright.