A television preview for an episode of a science program about the possibility of bringing people back to life to experience the future, highlighted a man saying, “I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my death.” This one simple statement captured and kept my attention, not leaving my mind for weeks, flooding me with thoughts about death and the future.
We live in a world of extremes when it comes to life and death. Most people have an innate desire to fight for life while a few have no fight left! “Disease” riddles our society, forcing people to make tough choices as to whether or not to endure grueling treatment plans hoping for a cure. This choice in itself is often polarizing as people have different opinions about what is best in each scenario. We often make character judgments based on choices. For example if someone chooses to “go through” treatment they are thought to be strong while the person who chooses “no” treatment might be criticized for “not being willing to fight”; or accused of “being careless” or “giving up” unless of course we’re dealing with the elderly who’ve lived long, full lives. In that case, we might deem it appropriate, as some say, to just let nature take its course.
All this to say, there’s a myriad of thoughts and opinions about our desires concerning life and death, about sustaining or discontinuing life, each coming with its own package of motives, ideals, and beliefs. Why some people grab hold of every possible prospect to live while others would sooner die than live one more day on the earth is a complex and ultimately unanswerable paradox.
“I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my death” taps into the desire to do what seems impossible; to live and not die; to physically see the future, to extend life beyond what is presently doable, to control our own destiny. But it also raises the question about what future do you want to see? There is always a future to any future so which one a person wants to see and who ultimately makes the decision to “refresh” their “preserved” body makes for a questionable future for those people.
I would never pretend to know or understand the motives, thoughts, or reasons behind this mindset. But I do find it to be an intriguing subject for Christians to ponder, worthy of our time and attention because it affects how we live in our present AND our future!
When all the thoughts which had flooded by mind receded, there was one phrase remaining; “I want to see the future. The only thing holding me back is my life!” This “wanting” mindset likewise taps into a desire to do the impossible, to live and never die, to see the future, and to extend life beyond this world. The difference is, as a Christian, I have no desire to “control” my own destiny, only choose the direction by choosing Christ Jesus as He has chosen me!
We’ve probably all heard the cliché “I don’t know what my future holds but I know the One who holds my future.” From a “Christian” perspective this slogan is meant to give comfort and assurance concerning our future here on earth. But unbelievers feel Christians just use this as a crutch to “convince” ourselves all is well when in reality, we fear the future. They may be more accurate than we give them credit for because the truth is, if we believe in Jesus Christ, we not only know Who holds our future but we know what our future holds!
The Lord thinks about us and our future! Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Now THAT is a future I want to live to see! And we will when our hearts are set on Jesus and the eternity He has established for us.
But there is a “catch” in these words from the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. We must believe in God’s thoughts, trusting in Him for peace, not being deceived by our own thoughts and dreams or what others might tell us. Jeremiah 29:8-9 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name…”
Too often, we live for what we “hear” in this world or what our own dreams reveal to us. Those are false desires. God knows His thoughts toward us for our future, and He promises they are thoughts of peace, not evil. His thoughts give us a future and a hope. That’s a done deal! THEN, when we believe these thoughts, we will call upon Him! We will go and pray to Him (and He listens)! We will converse with Him! We will trust in God! We will seek Him, not seek the future. We will find Him not someone or something else! But ONLY, when we search for Him with all our heart!
Without Jesus, our future is uncertain. Well, we can be certain we live and then we die, no more and no less. That’s why the Good News of the Gospel is imperative to share with others because it gives the reality and certainty of seeing and living in the future! This is one of the most hope-filled, heart-warming truths of our Christian faith though one of the least talked about and celebrated ones!
See, the longer Christians live, the longer we wait to die and truly live! We aren’t in control of life and death so the question is, “What are we doing until we die so we can live”? Are we truly living? How we spend our time living “today” affects our outlook and our future. Romans 14:7-8 “For none of us lives to himself, and on one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Isn’t that a beautiful truth, living and dying “all out” for the Lord?
Paul experienced this same conflict of life, death, and the future when he said in Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Living is very, very good but dying increases what is already good! To live IS Christ to die IS gain! Living and dying IS! We must die to gain more than what already “is”! That’s some really good news! It’s now easy to see how we can say, “Yes, I want to see the future! The only thing holding me back is my life”, when we believe and live in Jesus! Our desire is to depart and be with Christ, knowing death opens the door to the future, and life holds us back from death. BUT, we also know remaining in the flesh might be necessary for the time being! Sooo…the contemplation of life, death, and the future isn’t new, but some people spend their life trying to find ways to physically live in the future!
This isn’t a news flash but let me remind everyone the future is tomorrow! Duh! But I say it because the future, our tomorrow, can cause some real problems for people! We can get real strung out about “tomorrow” or living for the future instead of living for today! We might say we only “look forward” to the future in hopes it will be better than the present, without realizing we often miss out on “today” as a result!
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
That pretty much sums up tomorrow! This “worry” is not just about fear or trepidation of what is coming tomorrow, but also includes being overly concerned or focused on tomorrow, thinking about it and making provision for it! Instead we should take care of today, which of course, demands its’ own time and attention because of trouble. We spend too much time thinking about what “will be” instead of what “is”!
Whether I live today or tomorrow, whether I live for today or live for the future, whether I think death is keeping me from my future or life is keeping me from my future, one thing is certain; we are only truly “alive” today! Jesus says don’t worry, waste time, focus on, or long for tomorrow because it will do its own worrying! We should just “let” tomorrow happen and spend “today” living!
Today, tomorrow, the future…there is a time for everything! We need to focus on what time it is in our lives each day, making the most of any and all the time we are given. Ecclesiastes 3:2 “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. Verse 11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
Note that God has put eternity in our hearts so our longing for the future is God-given! However we need to know and see that “no one” can find out the work God does from beginning to end. It is enough to know eternity is IN our hearts, without needing to find a way to experience the future, without needing to see the future while here on earth! Will we let eternity reside without trying to make it happen? Will we accept whatever time it is for us in life, and not long for a time that isn’t meant to be right now?
I hope, if nothing else, I’ve given you something to think about today and you won’t be held back from living by life, death, or the future! Live fully for today and let tomorrow take care of itself! To live IS Christ! To die IS gain! If you’re reading this you’re alive! Just live!