Remembering the Future
Nobody said that raising children would be easy. My wife and I have to remember that quite frequently, some weeks more than others. With three children age six and under, our home certainly can be a crazy place.
This morning, I came back to the dining room table after stepping away for a bit. Lo and behold, there was a bowl of half-eaten, soggy cereal that our almost-four-year-old son had left behind. Usually, it as if he has a hollow leg and we can’t feed him enough. But sometimes, despite insisting that he wants something specific to eat, he consumes hardly any of it. And once more, we’ll say, “Why did you ask for it if you didn’t really want it?”
Then there’s my six-year-old, who seems to have inherited her father’s absentmindedness. Often in the morning, we’ll hear her cry out, “I can’t find my glasses,” because again she hasn’t put them back on the dresser like she’s supposed to. When she was younger, it was, “I can’t find Froggy,” when she didn’t keep her stuffed animal frog on her bed. Again, we’ll tell her, “If you put your stuff back in the same place, you won’t lose it.”
Last night, I had to tell my twenty-month-old not to use her toothbrush to brush our dog’s teeth. If not tonight, one day soon I’ll have to tell our son yet again not to grab a book or toy out of his younger sister’s hand. My wife will probably have to remind our oldest child again that she shouldn’t talk back to her “that way.” We’ll have to tell the youngest, “No!” and watch as she goes right on ahead and does the forbidden act anyway.
Our children are great and we love them dearly, but there are times when we wonder if anything we’re doing or saying is getting through to them. On their best days, they are so much fun. On their worst days, we wonder whether we’re actually related to them. Sometimes, it can feel like all our work is pointless, like we should just throw in the towel with all this parenting stuff.
At those points, remembering the future helps us persevere. We’ll repeat the same lesson for the umpteenth time because we know it is part of raising a functioning member of society. One day, we know, we will see with new clarity that all the hard work was worth it. By God’s grace, we’ll see that persevering through the daily grind was worth it as our children emerge as responsible adults.
There’s an analogy here for the Christian life. Frankly, remembering what Christ has done in the past and is doing in the present, while necessary, isn’t enough. We must also remember the future. Paul shows us this in 1 Corinthians 15, arguing that the historicity of the resurrection and what the Lord has done in the past is nonnegotiable. If Christ hasn’t been raised, we have no hope. But the Apostle doesn’t just focus on the past in that chapter. He uses the past resurrection of our Savior to ground the future hope of our resurrection and the future reality of a new creation. Paul remembers the past, and he connects it to the future. One reason, in fact, that we remember the past and what Christ has done is so that we can also remember the future. That He has kept His promises in the past assures us that He will keep His promises regarding the future.
No book better understands the nature of human beings than the Bible. So, it’s no surprise that there are so many exhortations to remember what God will do in the future. We know how essential it is for human life to have good things to anticipate. Depression sets in when people believe they don’t have anything to look forward to. Some people don’t live very long into retirement because they believe they have no purpose if they have no vocation to pursue.
If having something to look forward to is critical for living well, how much more critical is it for us to have a sure future if we are to press on in faith? Life isn’t easy. We get sick. Other people annoy us. Unexpected crises deplete our savings. Adding Christian faith, despite the claims of many false prophets, doesn’t change any of that. But the Christian faith gives us hope in the midst of all that, hope that there is a new creation coming, that Christ will set all things right.
If we don’t remember the sure future we have in Christ, we’ll be seduced by the comforts of this world. We’ll give in and compromise, refusing to suffer. It’s easier, after all, to go with the flow of culture than to swim against it if that is what faithfulness to Christ requires. Doing so is hard, but when we remember that there is something unspeakably grand waiting for us, we’ll lean on God’s grace and keep swimming.
Scripture gives us glimpses of the future, but even the Apostles lacked the words to tell us how incredible it will be. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Let us remember this—the One who raised Jesus from the dead has something so amazing in store for us that it cannot now be conceived. Let us remember what God has for us in the future, the coming new creation (Rev. 21). What we will have then will make everything we do for the Lord now worth it.