Yesterday I had a funeral. The man was in his seventies, about the same age my dad would be. As I prepared for the funeral I considered all that he had seen in his seventy-five years. He was born into a world where Hitler was rising in power. He was a boy during WWII and came of age during the cold war. All the amazing advances of science, medicine, techonology and media took place as he grew into old age. Then I projected back seventy five years before he was born, which put me at 1860 and the beginning of the civil war. Wow, his birthday was closer to the civil war then it was to today!
As we look back we see the realities of the passage of time. It is a known quantity to some extent. We know about a world before electricity, before phones, before DVDs and SUVs. The future is not known. We can make predictions and projections. We can talk about "some day" and imagine the improvements that are possible. But the future is still unknown. Technological advances also mean that a handful of men can create mayhem which was unimaginable in days gone by. The lives we enjoy hang by fragile threads. There is a threat horizon which accompanies our hopes and dreams. It could be really good, but it could get really bad, too.
If older men are an invitation to history, then babies and children are signs pointing to the future. With my kids I constantly find myself thinking about years from now. What can I do to prepare them? At a deeper level I worry about their faith. I know they are growing up in a world where unbelief is aggressive and growing. Some people are angry at the church and angry at believers. What will it be like for them in thirty years? Can they be faithful and faithfilled in that environment?
I also am preparing for a new baby. My expectation is that I will not be around for most of his life. When he is my age I will be long gone. So, I have been driven to a place of prayer and trust. I know that ANOTHER must do what I cannot do. I also recognize that that has always been the case. I just thought I was making things happen! To admit I am not able to be in control is freeing. If a debt is too big to pay you just do not worry about it anymore. "Nothing I can do." Likewise, a task too large to accomplish is freedom. I cannot build this on my own. I am responsible for the early days, the times of laying foundations and creating life patterns. No one knows the future. We know that it will be similar to the past, yet also radically different. We have always faced the unknown. Yet Jesus says that He goes before us. That is hope: believing that there is SOMEONE with power and authority whom we can trust. An act of hope is living life faithfully, living like someone who trusts. We work hard and do our best and understand that we are not in control. To launch our children into the future takes hope. We acknowledge the threats but with confidence that even if bad things happen there is Someone to trust.
There is brokeness, but there is also healing. There is death, there is also life. There is darkness, but there is also light. There is a God, hidden away in all of this, to Whom we can entrust all of our tomorrows.