It’s summer. Graduations are over. Kids are off from school. Vacations are underway. It can be an exciting time. For many people, though, the stress factor rises as they think about the future. For high school students, the start of a new life chapter is on the horizon: going off to college, meeting new people, thinking about careers, moving away from mom and dad for the first time.
College graduates can likewise be under extreme pressure. My summer after graduation was an ordeal of interviewing for jobs that I was overqualified for but still needed. Parents will do all they can for their kids at these times, but sometimes all they can do is just watch and pray. With all the changes in life, parents often hope their family will continue to trust in God at all.
Over time our life plans and goals fill up, and God can be pushed right out. Focusing on seemingly important things in life that are actually not essential can bring us down. I look around and see all kinds of things that grab my attention—things that are not even necessarily bad. Focusing on work (or in the past, school), my family, my hobbies, or even my dog can crowd God out of my life. These are all good things and planning is important, but they don’t hold the future. This fact becomes real to us when we are in crisis mode or in a time of extreme change.
We can easily fall into this trap, thinking that even God is somehow an accessory to our agenda or plans. We are tempted to look for God to fulfill our childhood hopes and dreams. Anxiety can quickly fill our hearts about the future. Trying to plan everything out perfectly can lead to many sleepless nights.
Yet the Lord uses these situations not only to unveil what is in our hearts (where our treasures lie) but also as guideposts. Sometimes the words of a friend or the encouragement of a family member remind us to see God at work in showing us the way back to him. Complete strangers have encouraged me to stop feeling sorry for myself and look to God for hope, to be thankful.
God has something far grander in store for us than we can imagine (1 Cor. 2:9). Our plans will never compare to his. He is in control, and we can entrust ourselves to him whatever the circumstances.
Refocusing Our Attention
Jesus told his disciples, “You know the way” (John 14:4). When the Lord taught his disciples on earth, they had huge plans that battled for their attention. They had the kingdom of God all figured out, but there was one problem. Their vision seemed to get in the way of Jesus. They thought they could improve God’s kingdom. Like us, they thought they had the future all figured out.
Like his disciples, we know what the right thing to do is. We know that only God controls the future, but trusting seems like such a hard thing to do. Jesus took this opportunity to teach his disciples what true faith looks like. He calls us to hold on to this world loosely and see that he has everything figured out.
We are called to a simple thing: to see all the good things in life as gifts that should take second place to God. God has a plan that he is working out in us, in our friends, family, and churches (Phil. 1:6). He holds the future, so we can leave the worrying to him.
Putting Our Faith in God
Jesus didn’t tell his disciples everything about life. Likewise, he doesn’t tell us everything about how to live, act, or achieve. He doesn’t tell us what to do with the money we make, who to marry, or where to send our kids to school. We should plan as best as we can, but a lot of mystery remains in life.
Jesus does tell us, though, that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The mystery of what is around the corner can be left at God’s feet. The uncertain future can be let go. We can know this. Because Jesus did the impossible for us, our futures are secure. Jesus perfectly trusted his Father so that we might follow him to God (John 14:6).
What’s more, Jesus does not merely point us to God; He is God. He is the perfect Way to the Father’s goodness and presence, where we can lay all our burdens down and trust his perfect love to guide us all the way home—even when we get sidetracked in life or everything seems hopeless. He is present all along the way. Christ’s Spirit gives us the ability to trust that promise.
Jesus tells us, “You know the Way. You have found it in me, through me, and by me. Just keep trusting in me, knowing that my strength is perfect in your weakness. Trust in me and there is nothing you ever need to fear.” Because we know that the future belongs to God, we don't have to worry.