The Future, Trust and Carrots...
Truth: We don't want to know the future.
Why: God knows we couldn't handle it... neither in a holy way nor would it satisfy our real need.
One of the coulda shoulda thoughts I have most is: "what if they could have caught my cancer sooner?"
Unfortunately, that's not an easy question. More recently, we have learned, and haven't shared much, that the type of cancer I have is not only rare and aggressive and the type that a well-known celebrity had, (but in a different area of the body, and it didn't end well), but I could have had this cancer for 10-15 years. What makes it quite a coulda shoulda is this cancer is often misdiagnosed as something else. Therefore, for my cancer to have been caught, I would have had to known the future to begin things like colonoscopies in my late 20's. I would have had to have known the future to even convince medical professionals to do the procedures at that age, and even that may not have caught it.
However, let's say for the sake of argument I did know the future and could have caught the cancer earlier. No doubt, my chances for survival would be better. That's good, right? Maybe.
Maybe? Well, yes... maybe. Here's why:
To say cancer is life altering is an understatement. It has a way of changing every priority and tossing up everything you value. Therefore, if I had known I had cancer earlier, I'm certain many major decisions I had made in the past would have been different. Let's consider a few. Would I have pursued a large family had I known the risk (It would have put the revelation at the timing of the birth of my fourth or fifth child)? What about staying in the military vs separating? What about the various places we have lived and the wonderful people we have known? How would we have handled job decisions? Would I have had the same ambitions to make a difference (not saying I particularly have, but what if I hadn't even tried?) How much more would I have "played it safe" with my decisions? Those are just a few... and in all of them: how many more fears, worries, anxieties and struggles would have been created with the knowledge of the future that would have robbed me of the various joys in life God has provided??
[Some of our greatest joys... #s 5 - 8. Our "second batch" as we call them... Which of these could have been sacrificed on the altar of fear?]
After having wrestled with the truth over the last couple months having known, I've had to accept that knowing would have created different problems, and it may not have changed the outcome. Perhaps an absurd illustration is the movie "The Butterfly Effect." Albeit a cheesy movie, and I don't recommend it, but I'll spoil the conclusion to spare you the pain. The more the main character tries to undo bad things that happen, the worse he actually makes the outcome. The movie concludes with him believing he is ultimately the problem, and it would be better if he wouldn't have lived. Absurd, yes, but an illustration of the problem of us trying to handle knowledge only meant for God Himself.
So, you might be wondering ... am I trying to say "ignorance is bliss"?
Certainly not, as that isn't the message of Scripture. We aren't to think like the naturalist who would say that statement or some Buddhist who views reality as an illusion, but we as Christians accept reality and instead say: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," Proverbs 3:5. Instead, what I want to emphasize is in our hearts, we often want to know the future to play God. And... if we had such divine ability to know the future as the present, our motivations are as unimpressive to God as us wanting to know tomorrow's lottery numbers or the next 1950's McDonalds stock to buy.
Instead, God created us with a better need than the knowledge of tomorrow. He created us with the need to trust Him as a fundamental aspect of worship. Trust and worship go hand in hand. He commands no other gods for a reason. He made us with the need to worship and trust Him as much as the need to breath and eat. The only reason we, and especially I, have struggled to accept the truth is because I (we), take up the enemy on his offer too frequently to make us more knowledgeable... of good and evil... and we reap what we sow.
"Fear not" would not have to be the most common command in the Bible if we followed our Maker's design and met our greatest need in worship and trust of Him.
OK, so I've covered the future and trust... but what about carrots?
God doesn't call us to trust Him like He's dangling some carrot in front of us to manipulate us to His will. The tone I understand from Scripture is not a God Who keeps the reward always at arms length. Instead, it's more like a parent trying to force feed a baby their carrots. From His creation to His Word to the multitude of means He employs to reveal Himself to us, we suffer for lack of knowledge of Him not because He is elusive, but due to our stubborn hearts ... a lack of a well-developed taste for Him.
If we will more often taste and see that He is good, our hearts will rest in Him ... and leave tomorrow to Him. Perhaps then, we can make the best of today.