Who knows what the future holds? God does. He knows our coming and our going, our first breath and our last. Before a single day had passed on the earth, He had already chosen you for the little flock that no one can snatch from the Savior’s hand.[i] Before you were born, He knew you and formed you in your mother’s womb.[ii] All your days are in His hand. He knows the future.
But we don’t. We don’t know whether we will die today or thousands of days from today. We don’t know whether our churches will be around in 200 years or even in two years. The news we see and the shows we binge give us little hope. The budgets we pass and the hard choices we make give us still less hope. Many among us can remember unlocked doors everywhere and full churches on Sundays, but some of us have never seen those things. We all understand the disciples who locked their doors for fear.
When we were baptized, we weren’t given a spirit of fear. When we learned the faith from our parents and our pastors and our teachers, we did not learn to be slaves to the fear of death and terror about an uncertain future. We have a Spirit of power and love and self-control,[iii] and we are slaves only of Christ, not of fear, death or terror.
I am telling you nothing new in this or any of the articles that will follow it. You know these things and learned them from faithful witnesses who told you about Jesus, helped you put together your Sunday school crafts, showed you how to follow the service and sang hymns with you. They taught you His peace that passes all understanding, and some of them have now fallen asleep in that peace.
At great cost He won that peace for you. The cost was His blood and His shame, but the peace is all yours. When the doors are locked and the future is totally unknown to you, He comes to you and says that you have His peace. Everything is yours because you are Christ’s, and death and hell and terror are defeated. You have nothing to fear and everything to hope because of Jesus.
Since only He knows the future, let Him be the only one in charge of it. He knows that more doors were once unlocked and churches were once much fuller, so He must be the one to see to the unlocking of doors and the filling of churches. He must be the one who will open our closed minds to understand His Scriptures and the one to set our cold hearts on fire again.[iv] Since only He can do these things and since He does all things well, let Him see to the church’s future.
Since only He knows the future, let Him be the only one who will keep His promises. We often fail to keep the promises we make to ourselves and others, but has one of His promises ever failed? No, not one, not ever. We may be good at imagining we can control the future or guess what the future will be. We’re not nearly so good as we think, and our own lives have proven us wrong time and again. Let’s instead get better at holding God to His promises, seeing how many of them fail or go awry, how many resemble our disappointing promises and plans. We’ll find afresh how powerful, how busy, how glorious, how many and how comforting all His promises are, and how not one syllable of His Word ever fails.
Why say so much about such basic things, things that my 2-year-old knows about Jesus? Because the little ones have more wisdom than we do. They aren’t eaten up with worry, and they don’t fret over a world that isn’t under their control. They know Jesus, and in knowing Him, they know Wisdom more than any adult with any number of degrees ever devised. In this series, we’ll talk about things only grown-ups know and fret over: sharing Christ with a Christless America, being the Body of Christ here and now, teaching the Scriptures’ truth, living in God’s ways, giving all we are for the Gospel, being confident in Jesus despite every temptation to timidity. We will search the Scriptures and find how rich they are, how they give us more of Jesus and His wisdom than we could ever ask or imagine, how in them we have all we need for the future.
I am confident that in learning from Christ, we will regain a child’s spirit, trust in God and become excited about the future. When Jesus appeared to His disciples in the locked room, He found grown men fearful and stuck in place. The men were given the Spirit of peace who would lead them out to share Christ’s peace with the world. Jesus gave His disciples then and gives us now no guarantees about numbers, buildings, budgets, cash flow, institutions or programs. They had very little, they claimed very little and they departed this life with nothing. Nothing except Jesus. It was enough for them. It will be enough for us.
It’s enough because the one guarantee we do have is more than we need: our God will never leave us nor forsake us. When it seems that no one wants to hear the Gospel anymore in America, our God is sure that His Gospel of peace is all anyone at any time in any place needs for his soul. When it seems that no one wants to bother learning the Bible and digging deep into its riches, our God is sure that what His disciples need most is for their hearts to burn within them as He opens the Scriptures to us.
Everything people think is certain comes and goes. How many kingdoms and kings in Scripture thought the whole world lay at their feet? Where are they now? Who knows their names? There is now only one King whose name is spoken throughout the earth. Jesus is living and reigning over everything, always for your good. The Word of the Lord endures forever.
Have no fear, little flock. Your Savior’s delight is to press so much goodness and joy into your mind, heart, will and strength that you’ll have far more than you need. Your future is not dark. Dreariness, sadness and fear are not your portion. You don’t have to feast on darkness, and you don’t need to drink from misery’s bottle. Feast on Christ, and drink deeply from His cup of salvation. Eat the healthy food of His body and blood for strength. Be courageous, and have no fear. Everything is in the Savior’s hands. Look and see what else is there in His hands: the marks His love has made for you, for your church, for the sinner who doesn’t know Him, for the sinner who once knew Him, for everyone you’ve ever talked to and ever will. Every blessing and every grace and every time and the opening of heaven lie in His hands. See how the marks are there, too, still after His resurrection. See how proud He is of the wounds and how Thomas’ heart was calmed when he touched the wounds and how in Jesus’ hands, at long last, we have peace.
[i] John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
[ii] Psalm 139:13: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
[iii] 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
[iv] Luke 24:32: “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’”