Sunday, August 4, 2013

Foggy Futures & Contented Todays

Fog crept its way around me from every angle. Driving late at night on country roads was dangerous enough, but the thick fog made me especially nervous. I couldn’t even see ten feet in front of me. But the light from my headlights provided just enough visibility for me to safely move forward. I slowed down and set my gaze on the part of the road that was directly in front of me. As I moved forward I could see a little more, and then a little more. It was scary not being able to see exactly where I was going, but I kept on driving until I made it home safely.

When I got home that night, I realized how often I find myself in a similar situation in life. I try and try to figure out what my life will be like 5, 10 or 20 years from now and plan out my future. But when it comes down to it, the future is a huge cloud of fog that I can’t see. I have no way of knowing where I’ll be even two days from now. I can hope and dream, but when it comes down to it, all I can see is what God has placed in front of me right now.

Why is it so hard to be content with that?

Often times we are so focused on what could be that we miss out on the blessings and opportunities that God has given us in the here and now.

I find myself always dreaming about the next big thing. First it was moving away to college. But when I got to college I dreamt about spending my summers in Sri Lanka, then I dreamt about moving to Hawaii, and then to California, and then…etc. I’m always looking ahead, always wondering what life could be like. Dreaming isn’t bad, but hopes for the future should never take away joy from the present.

I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs 4:25 that says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.”

Notice that it doesn’t say, “Let your eyes look far ahead, fix your gaze on the distant future.” No, it’s saying “Open your eyes! Look at where you are right NOW!”

For me, this means that I need to fix my gaze on the 200 international students that I interact with on a weekly basis. It means deepening friendships and growing in community with those around me. It means using the gifts God has given me to serve Him where I am right now, in Hawaii. Sometimes it even means scrubbing toilets and taking out the trash.

Life isn’t always glamorous. It may not always be exciting and magical and what we may have dreamt it would be. But Jesus came so that we could have life to the fullest (John 10:10).

When I think back to that night when I was driving in the fog, I remember the anxiety I had about not being able to see what was ahead of me. I am so prone to worry about the future. I guess I think knowing where I am going will give me a sense of security. I so often struggle with anxiety over every little decision that will affect my future (just ask anyone who remotely knows me!) But this is not what God desires. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to worry about life or what we will eat, or drink, or wear. He says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Instead of worrying about the future, I think God wants us to focus on HIM and trust Him to reveal more and more of His plan for us as we take life one day at a time. We don’t need to see where we are going. We just need to trust that God is in control. When we stop fearing the foggy future, we will find much more contentment in today.