Predicting the Future

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I often get antsy and impatient thinking about my future or my family’s future. When I have a really sick kid, when I go for a mammogram, when I’ve hit a rough patch with a friend or a family member, I desperately want to know what’s on the horizon. Maybe as the youngest of three children, I was ingrained with a deep suspicion that I was being left out of the plans, and woefully in the dark. I recall being the only one excluded from a shared “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” moment after I realized Santa always used a fireplace and yet, “Hey, wait a second! We don’t even HAVE a fireplace…”

“In those cases, he uses a magic key,” my mom assured. I remember the weird smiles plastered on everyone else’s faces. My instincts screamed there was a lot more to this story, but I just couldn’t grasp it. It drove me nuts! As an adult, I still have a strong desire to know how things are going to play out. And I’m just as frustrated when I don’t. What will things look like in 10 years? Where will I be? I find myself even getting impatient with God. I consider how nice it would be to be able to look into a crystal ball to have every answer laid out in front of me, just to get a quick glimpse of what to expect, what to not stress about, and what treacherous pitfalls to be prepared for.

Well into my fourth decade of life, I’m just beginning to discern that when I’m looking for greater clarity and greater understanding of God’s will, maybe what He’s really telling me is to surrender to Him. I’m starting to see that I should actually be asking for greater trust, a deeper dependence and more courage in the face of the unknown.

The other day I witnessed a typical traffic snafu. I was stopped at a red light, at the very front of a lane heading straight. There was another driver to my left, attempting to make a left through a flashing yellow arrow. Another lady, clearly in a big hurry, drove up behind the person in the turning lane and impatiently honked her horn. It was a shrill, long “BEEEEEP” that shouted,  “What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? Turn already!” The driver in front inched a few feet forward, but still agonizingly hesitated on the turn. I held my breath in anticipation for the next loud honk. But, a split second before our hair-trigger friend had a chance to beep again, we could all see several cars barreling towards the intersection. Most likely, the driver in front had seen the cars coming, but the way the intersection was laid out, no one else was privileged with that viewpoint. Had the prudent driver responded to horn lady’s rude prompting, she would have slammed right into oncoming traffic.

This caused me to reflect on God’s plan for our lives. (I spend a lot of time shuttling kids to and fro, so my minivan has become my own version of the ancient Greeks’ Agora. Except it’s just me and my elementary school kids, minus the renowned deep philosophical thinkers. Ok, there’s no connection to the famed Agora. But let’s just say the ol’ hamster gets a work out as my van’s wheels and the ones in my head start turning.) When we can’t see those cars coming in our life, we still have to have prudence and show measured judgment by placing our trust in the Good Lord in order to avoid potential disasters, like speeding head-on into traffic. The horn honker was impatient and assumed she had the full story, but she didn’t. The driver in front had a better vantage to assess the risks. Horn lady didn’t allow the driver in front to let it unfold. She didn’t have the humility to realize she’s not omniscient. In the same way, we usually don’t have the whole picture. But God does! So He reminds us to have great faith in Him when things don’t seem to be moving as quickly and in synch with our own time frame. We honk our horn. But he’s asking us to trust Him and know that He has the divine GPS to know where we’re headed and what kinds of obstacles he’s monitoring. We don’t have that vision. We must be reliant on Him.

Over the years, I’ve had some epic fails in trying to predict the future. I remember the first time in college a friend explained that he was sending an “electronic mail” to a friend at another university. “How weird and impersonal. That’ll never catch on,” I secretly thought. That whole baggy pants trend, where teenagers wear their pants hanging way below their hips? I spotted it for the first time around 1990 and thought to myself, “You’re going to look at this fad in a few years and feel so ridiculous!” Flash forward 25 years. I still see those underwear-exposing low riding pants. As a foreign exchange student in France, I thought the whole bottled water craze would never catch on in America! What self-respecting citizen of the U.S. would pay for a fancy bottle of water?” Gulp. Evian, anyone?

Needless to say, no one is banging down my door for stock tips. And that’s ok. Obviously, I can’t predict what’s coming down the pike, but there’s no need. I’ll just fasten my seatbelt and get ready for an adventure. God can handle the rest.

“The Will of God is not changeable, but it may be His Will that things should be changed.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas

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