Thursday, 29 January 2009

Knowing what's in store

We all want to know the future.

This lady outside Allahabad certainly does (thanks BBC for the pic). She is listening to the 'computer robot' who clearly knows what's in store for the dear one.

What a blessing we don't know much about what our lives will be like. Imagine knowing ahead of time the sufferings that you will go through - the disappointments and defeats that we each face! What fear would stalk our every moment. What bliss not to know.

And conversely, imagine knowing with precision exactly every good thing which you will experience. How hollow many of these joy-filled moments will be once we reach them.

Some things, we do know - and want to forget.

Our deaths, for example. Anyone who has hung on the outside of a Mumbai train - or ridden on the top - or even crossed the tracks - clearly believes in their own immortality.

The shadow-opposite of winning the lottery. I will never die - its just some other poor sod who will not get home tonight.

I think the other thing that we are masters of denying is the basic set of facts that we know. That which our consciences say is right will eventually win out. And yet everything within us is attracted to that which we know to be wrong. We can weasel our way about, and try to control our destiny with any manner of hopeful monsters, but at the end of the day there will be a reckoning.

I have found nothing to be bring more clarity to this than the horrible tragedy of the terror attacks late last year. We all know that such a horrible act demands a judgment. Everyone I have talked to, even folks from faith-backgrounds which don't have any explicit day of judgment are in full agreement. God will make sure those men get their desserts.

This is where the Christian scriptures - taken at their simplest and most direct understanding - are so profound. Abram - gets a promise that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Childless at 75+ he believes. He is then given a prophecy that his descendants will be slaves in a foreign land for 400 years. All this takes place after Joseph brings Abraham's grandson Jacob - himself an old man by then to the land of the Nile. Just one example - which we read as a family tonight - of God revealing some things to his people.

But this is hardly the stuff of fortune telling - we are dealing with God showing his own eternal presence - and his mercies in giving humanity an insight into what is to come. It also strengthens the case for using the Bible as a guide for life. There is much in scripture about the future. The most exciting part is the promise of being part of an eternal Kingdom centered around the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

The big picture is there. The stage is set. Now the day to day joy (and some sorrows) of living the future in the present. One minute at a time.

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