Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

What does the future hold?


"Jesus answered them: Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah!' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet." -Matthew 24:4-6


By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

Our society's obsession with the future amazes me. Only a few weeks into 2007, one of the most-asked questions is: "What does the future hold?'

Apparently many Americans are transfixed by a need to know what lies ahead for them. It is estimated that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on horoscopes, fortune tellers, psychics, astronomers, crystal-ball and palm interpreters, tarot-card readings, and a multitude of other so-called mediums-all in an effort to predict the future.

Sister Cleo made a fortune by making people believe she could predict the future. Too bad she couldn't predict the IRS showing up on her doorstep and sending her to prison for a long, long time.

Even worse: This craving to know what the future holds is not limited to income status, nationality, race, or religious preference. Too many Christians probably hurry out to gather the morning paper to read their horoscopes!

We are seven years removed from one of the most insane periods related to this theme-the changing of centuries. Do you recall the gloomy predictions issued at that time, wrapped around a crazy belief that Y2K would create so much world chaos that we would be plunged into an abyss of uncivilized madness?

Some people withdrew life savings. Others stockpiled weapons and ammunition. One man bought 400 cans of Spam-that's right, I said Spam-to last him until the world came to an end, he said.

When nothing happened on the first day of the new millennium, people looked like fools.

The truth: No one can tell you more about the future than you can! No one has an advantage in knowing what the future holds. We are all at the mercy of watching life unfold, day by day, in its many mysterious ways, and you might as well save your money and sanity.

Take a clue from the Master

In today's Scripture, Jesus talks about the future and his eventual return. That entire chapter of Matthew is filled with predictions and warnings. What does the future hold? In reflecting on this Scripture, this is how I think you can answer that question.

First of all, you need to know that the future holds a vast amount of uncertainty. Each new day will bring its share of uncharted and unexplainable events that will cause you to wonder. Yes, there will be wars and rumors of wars; there will be trouble and tribulation; there will be famines, earthquakes, and all sorts of evils plaguing our world. Where? We do not know. When? We cannot tell. The only certainty of the future will be the uncertainty of it!

This may seem distressing. On the surface, it appears our lives are left to the whim of chance or fate. My friends, it is precisely at this point that I want to share with you the only other sure thing about the future.

I cannot say what tomorrow holds for us, but this one thing I know for sure: I know Who holds tomorrow! It is none other than GOD! The future belongs to God.

You can journey into the vast unknown with confidence and assurance that as you go forward you will find God. You will meet God at those times when you are most in need; you will discover God in the most unlikely places. There is no path, no place, or destination where God hasn't been already!

Look for God's footprints. Listen for the still, small voice. Speak, and God will hear you. Pray, and God will answer. What more than this do you truly need to know about the future?

In Daniel Defoe's novel "Robinson Crusoe," the most exciting moment for me occurs when Crusoe walks to the seashore and discovers footprints on the beach. At that moment, he realizes he is not alone, that someone else is on that island with him.

Have you seen the footprints? You are not alone. God is with us!


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