The past two weeks we have been looking at life as a story that we create. We are the characters and we have a mission. The first week we looked at our past and last week we looked at the present, so now we will look to the future. The future has always been one of my biggest fears, maybe my only fear. It’s unpredictable and big, or is it? I used to look at the future as some big dragon I had to fight alone. It would taunt me with fears of where my life was headed, making me question my security in Christ. Will you ever find a job that you love? Does my life really make an impact? Is the work that I’m putting in going to pay off in the end? All of these questions terrify me, but I don’t have to be afraid. God promises us that we are never alone, that he will never leave us or forsake us. It is such a powerful promise that is made over and over again in scripture, and learning to trust in that causes us to move forward into the unknown with confidence. Trust is not an easy thing, but it is such a rewarding promise. No matter what happens, God will always be there. He may not change your circumstances and he may not make everything better, but he will always be there to guide and comfort you when you need it. He can change and shape your life radically, but you have to choose to trust him with the future.
One big misconception about God is that when we choose to follow him, life gets easier. This is such an untrue statement, even though I wish it were true. We still need to put in the work so that our future can be prepared for what has not yet been lived. You don’t leave a legacy if you have done nothing to earn it. Think about stories you have read or watched. The hero of the story doesn’t defeat the odds in the end because they simply exist, they win the war because they have trained for the battle. One of my favorite book series of all time is, The Series of Unfortunate Events. In these books it follows three siblings who are being chased by an evil murderer trying to take their fortune after their parents had died in a fire (Yes, this is a children’s series, and yes, I loved them). The children in each book were faced with new challenges and threats of being kidnapped or killed, but each time, they were ready and prepared. Each child had a unique talent that they practiced and worked at. The older sister was an inventor, the middle brother was an avid reader, and their baby sister could bite things (later she was skilled at cooking). I loved this series because they were not handed what they needed, they had to fight for their future to be secured. Our future can be a terrifying beast, but when we work hard now, we can be ready for anything. I want to spend the next few paragraphs giving some advice, because I want to be a guide for you, I have been able to fight my fears, and now I want to help others like you.
Your future requires hustle.
I love the idea of hustle. This idea comes from Jon Acuff who wrote a book called, Do Over, a fantastic read that talks in depth about this idea. Hustle is simply putting in the hard work now that will pay off later. One of the biggest issues I see with young people, and older, is the idea of entitlement. The idea that you deserve something because of your family or socio-economic background, we need to stop that. We need to replace entitlement with hustle. If you have a dream, work towards achieving it, don’t expect it to fall into your lap. I know many talented musicians, and not one of them has ever said they never practice. That would be crazy! Even prodigies have to practice. We need to start practicing our skills, building a portfolio of your life. I once heard a quote by Kevin Smith, a writer and director of several films (often mature movies), he talked about how he writes every day. Even when it stinks, he still writes because he is always trying to get better. I think God wants us to live with hustle. There is a verse in Revelation that addresses the idea of being lukewarm, verse 3:16 says, “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” That’s pretty convicting. Either be all in or all out, don’t just exist, live. God has given you gifts and abilities to use for his glory, don’t waste that on expecting opportunity to land in front of you. Work hard for the story you have not yet lived.
Your future will probably be messy.
It’s funny, but true. We are going to mess up in life. Hustle is good, but sometimes we will fail or screw up, and that’s okay. One of the worst things I see is that people quit after failing. Now this isn’t me talking about messing up in sin, because we need to always guard our hearts from sin. What I’m talking about is people feel like they can never fail. In school I felt like this, I wasn’t a good student and I was ecstatic about a C, but my parents always told me to never give up. I worked hard and learned how to study, and that has allowed me to excel in college because of the skills I learned in failure. I get to lead students each week outside of the main youth group, these students want more out of their walk and they want to lead. My goal within this, is to let them try. If they have an idea I want to help them do it, and if it fails, I want it to be a safe place for them. I don’t think we should get judged for having an idea not be perfect the first time, we need to understand that failure can project us into something greater. The odds of you being perfect are almost none, so why beat yourself up over not reaching that unrealistic standard? Use the messiness of life to get better. Each time we fail, we gain experience that will help us make better decisions in the future. Learn from failure, don’t let it stop you from living into the future that God has designed for you.
Your future needs to be given to God.
Our future is not set in stone, no one can see into it and prepare for everything that may happen, that’s why we need to put our trust in God every day. Spending time in prayer and the word everyday will radically transform your life. As we do this, each day becomes an opportunity to grow. Each day will present new opportunities to encourage others around you and impact the lives of the people close to you. No matter what happens, good or bad, you can trust in Christ. I’ve seen a lot of tragedies in my life, but others have seen more. We can either let these tragedies control us, letting the enemy have control of your life, or you can give it to the creator of all, letting him guide you. We have a choice each day. Our own strength can only go so far. You can still show hustle and learn from failure, but without God first in your life, there is a limit to what you can accomplish. I was scared of the future, but when I give that fear to God, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I live in freedom because I trust God in all my circumstances. Give your future to God, because he will turn the stories you have not lived into a masterpiece.
The future can be a scary thing to look at. It’s easy to let fear control us and direct our actions, but we don’t have to be afraid. Our future is not set on a fixed path, we can start working now to shape where we want to be. Our future is the story not yet told, we write it each day. You can leave a legacy that speaks to many, because your life matters, the story you tell matters. For me I learned that when I hustle and build my skills, when I learn from failure, and when I trust God; I am ready for anything. I want you to leave from reading this post knowing that your story matters. Your future may seem scary and maybe you don’t know where you will live, what your job might be, or where you will go. What I want you to remember is that when you live for Christ, you don’t have to be afraid. Hustle in working on your skills, learn from your failure, and trust God with your future. When you do this, you don’t have to be afraid. You can be secure in the future that God has for you.
Your story is not finished, so live in freedom writing the best story you can.