Mental wellbeing for young people

< Back to What the Bible REALLY says


Kate Middleton photo Kate Middleton · 19 Aug, 2020

The future … yeah, if only we did have a time machine a la back to the future (retro film mention, google it).

Thing is the future is unknown and uncertain. And we all have a plan for our life but what do you do if your future suddenly looks different from what you had planned or expected?

How do you make decisions when you don’t know what is coming?

What happens to your future when something becomes part of your story that you wish wasn’t there - whether that is emotional or physical health stuff, trauma or tough stuff life throws at you - or something more unexpected like global pandemic …

It is the Lord who directs your life, for each step you take is ordained by God to bring you closer to your destiny. So much of your life, then, remains a mystery!

Proverbs 4:24

Well, the Bible admits that much of life is a mystery - that’s certainly true. But how do we figure out our destiny? Does God really have a plan for us that holds in spite of things that feel like disaster? And can this help us make decisions in the key moments in life?

Paul is an interesting guy to think about when it comes to future plans. He’s the guy who wrote a lot of the books in the new testament - which are letters to the early church. But he didn’t start out as a church leader! He was an ambitious, successful man - seems like he had done pretty well in his studies, and he had worked his way up to an influential position. But when we first meet him, he is intent on putting a stop to this new story about Jesus that was spreading around. In Acts 8, which happens in the time after Jesus died and was resurrected, we read he was hugely significant in scattering the early followers of Jesus as he persecuted them - literally hunting them down. Acts 9 begins with him still determined to do this, with a clear focus on what he thought his purpose was.

But God had a very different plan for him. As he was on the way to Damascus to find more of these Jesus followers he had an encounter with Jesus himself - and it changed the direction of his whole life. He became one of the Jesus followers he’d been determined to wipe out.

So Paul’s writings about destiny are very interesting. When he tells his own story of what happened on the road to Damascus he says talks about how God revealed to him his destiny.

In Acts 22:10 he’s telling the story of what happened to him and he uses this Greek military term which was used when someone is stationed or assigned somewhere. Literally it talks of things being laid out before you - a clear path for you to follow or job for you to fulfill.

Then in some of his letters later in his life, he uses a different analogy - one of running a race and finishing the course. So in 2 Timothy 4:7 he says of himself - thinking he is near the end of his life “I have finished the race” - meaning he’s done what he was called to do, fulfilled his purpose.

Paul’s sense is that although life can be unexpected, your job is just to follow something laid out before you. The path will become clear - even when the future isn’t. You don’t need to know the full journey or route, you just need to follow the path laid out before you and you can trust God is leading you and has you covered - even when it seems to be going the wrong way.

What does that look like in practice/ One thing I find really helpful is just thinking about the next step. So often in our human way we worry about things far ahead - decisions or situations we may never actually face. What does it mean to you right now to bring your decision down to the next step and just take that? Can you leave the longer-term stuff to God and trust he will lay it out for you step by step?

That’s another thing that the bible says actually - although as people we tend to think way into the future - and often worry about what lies far ahead, the bible has a much shorter timescale in mind.

So Matthew 6:34 says “Refuse to worry about tomorrow but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” Even the Lord’s prayer talks about ‘give us today our DAILY bread’ - asking God to fulfill the needs of TODAY - not the days that lie ahead.

What does the Bible day about the future? It says it is often a mystery to us - but it is in good hands. And that's pretty comforting when you don't have a clue what on earth you're doing!