“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” – James 4:13-15.
The house I grew up in just sold again. I don’t know how many times it sold but it looks very much like it did when we moved into it so many years ago. As I looked at the photos of the house on the realtor’s website, I could visualize myself in each one. I pictured my parents and my siblings, even my grandfather, laughing, sharing, and grieving within the four walls of that house. At that moment I wondered why we tend to be nostalgic and dwell on things in the past. God wants us to look to the future, to move forward rather than focusing on what lay behind us. Where might God take me as an individual and we as a church in the future? So what’s next?
How often do we ask “what’s next?” We simply do not know what the future might bring. We make calculated predictions, we entertain fond hopes and dreams, and we warily consider possible troubles. But in the end, we can’t control or accurately forecast the future. We may imagine a future but we don’t have the power to create it. But that does not mean we don’t step out in faith. We might want God to give us a sneak preview of what lies ahead, but He is usually content to lead us one step at a time because as James reminds us, God may intervene or He may not, but He is the one ultimately in control. But what we cannot forget is God grants us the freedom to shape the future.
The Bible contains many examples of Christian men and women who believed that God would work through them to make a significant difference for His kingdom. God placed Esther strategically in the king’s court at a crucial time when she could save the lives of God’s people (Ester 4:14). God placed Joseph strategically to become the most powerful adviser to the pharaoh in Egypt and to save Jacob and his family from a devastating drought (Genesis 41:39–40).
God placed us to make a difference in where we live and work. That prospect is both exhilarating and scary. The challenge seems overwhelming when you consider the number of people who are lost in the panhandle of Florida. Because the task seems so big, we can easily throw up our hands and decide to do nothing. You cannot do it all. No one can. But you are able to touch those who come into the scope of your influence. You can make a real difference even find common ground, start some productive conversations, and make a connection with only one here and another there.
There will always be more people to reach than time or energy or commitment can provide. But the truth is that each one of us can touch a few. We can participate in what the Lord is doing in the Florida Panhandle if we look past the four walls of the church and constantly ask God “what’s next?”
- How often do you think about your spiritual future?
- What are some principles, truths, and priorities that should influence these plans that you are making for the future?