C. S. Lewis once said, "The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is."
Some people fear the future. Others may even find themselves at a point of despair over the future, thinking that God has forgotten them. Perhaps God hasn't done what they hoped He would. Maybe they had certain plans, certain expectations from God, or certain goals they had hoped to reach at a particular stage of their lives, but they haven't reached them.
If ever you've felt as though God has forgotten you or that God was against you, or if ever you've been frightened about your future, then the words God spoke to the Israelites so many years ago during the Babylonian captivity apply to you as well:
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)
These words are directed toward the person who has put his or her faith in God. Only the one who has a relationship with the Lord, which is only possible through Jesus Christ, can claim these words personally. Notice that God does not say in verse 11, "I know the thoughts that I have thought toward you," which is past tense. Rather, He says, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you." It's present tense. Thinking about His people isn't something God has done only in the past. It's something He is doing in the present and will continue to do in the future.
Although God is always thinking about you, His thoughts are not necessarily your thoughts, and His ways are not necessarily your ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Sometimes God doesn't work the way you want Him to. He may lead you in a path you didn't expect. That's where faith comes in. That's when you must fall back on the love of God and remember that whatever He does in your life — or fails to do, in your estimation — is based on His love. Maybe you thought the Lord was going to do a certain thing in your life. You're saying, "It's obviously not going to happen. I'm getting on in years. It's too late." But is it?
Moses didn't really get going until he was 80 years old, an age when most would be slowing down. But God said, in effect, "I just got you whipped into shape. It took me a long time. You're ready to go now." Who knows what the Lord will do? It isn't over until He says it is. God may have been preparing you all of this time for something yet in your future. You may be thinking, "It's too late. My friends have already reached these goals." But you are not your friends. You are you. God has a plan for you — something specific in mind just for you.
There is a future for each of us when God says, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." That word future could be translated "an expected end" or "a ground of hope" or "things hoped for." There will be an outcome, a completion, in your life. God will tie up the loose ends.
I know there are things you don't understand — things that have happened in your life that don't make sense. I don't have all the answers for you, but one day, you will stand before the One who does. Until then, you must believe that God's thoughts toward you are good. His plans for you are good. He has an expected end in mind.
For the Jews living in Babylon, their "expected end" was to find deliverance from the control of a pagan nation and return to their homeland to worship God. For us, ultimately, it's to be free from the effects of sin and to live forever in the presence of God Almighty. What it means specifically on a day-to-day basis, time will tell. Whatever His plan is, it's better than anything you could plan for yourself. God has a future for you. Don't be afraid to commit your life to Him. Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. You may not know what tomorrow holds, but you do know who holds tomorrow: it's your Father, who has a perfect plan for your life. So commit this new year to God. You will be glad you did.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!