Squinting at the Future

What am I doing with my life? I hope no one will accuse me of having a mid-life crisis just for asking the question. Sometimes, I am surprised to feel content. I like my job, and I’m good at it. I have a good living situation; God has provided for me above and beyond what I ever thought to ask for. But lately, I have been trying to imagine a future for myself. I need something to plan for and look forward to. We know that life never goes according to plan, and we have to trust God with our future. But there is wisdom in preparing and stewarding resources with the future in mind.

I have a new dream that in ten or fifteen years, I would be working for a Christian ministry. I have a useful knowledge of banking and payments, but I also want to use my writing skills. I want to be able to travel in order serve God by meeting the needs of people who are hurting. But this dream seems impossible, not because I am reaching too high, but because I never accomplished the dreams of twenty years ago. I wrote a book that sits on a thumb drive, unpublished and unread. I started this blog four years ago, with the hope that it would help me to get published. After almost two hundred posts, I haven’t gained much traction. I don’t know why I keep at it, except that I sense God wants me to. But what if it isn’t God at all? What if it is vanity, by every definition?

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.

Ecclesiastes 5:18

I know that not all marriages are solid, with two people working as a team toward the same goals. But I can’t help but wish I had a partner, to work side-by-side with toward the future. I would like to have someone to share both the successes and disappointments with. At the same time, I am sure there are those who would call me blessed to have only myself to please. If there is something I want to do, I don’t have to worry about someone else agreeing with it. But it takes extra faith to venture out alone. When the people who know you best discourage you from doing what you feel called to, it is difficult to know their motives because you don’t share a common goal. There is neither encouragement nor accountability.

Perhaps I am letting discouragement have too loud of a voice in my life. I am “cursed” with a good memory, and I remember what I hear better than what I see. In my mind are the voices of people who were supposed to love me, telling me not to do the things I felt God calling me to do. There are voices who assumed I would give in to sin and did not try to help me find the right path. Some voices are more than twenty years old, but they stick with me. I thought that someday I might have a best friend who would walk beside me and help me to navigate life. As I wrote that, it hit me: Jesus. He is the friend who walks beside me. I have often wondered if this loneliness that God has imposed on my life is for the purpose of drawing me to Him. At times, He is the only voice speaking into my life because I don’t have anyone to talk to about the things that are on my mind.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:37-39

I know that my desire for relationship is a normal part of being human. It goes along with the desire for purpose and significance. I spent my twenties finding significance in being my nephews’ auntie, but then my sister’s family moved out of state. In my thirties, I found an identity for myself as Daddy’s girl. Trying to be a Ruth to my parents – more to them than seven sons – gives me purpose. But I have to recognize that I will not always have them with me. Who will I be, then? Who will be my family? God would not have me worry about the future, but He doesn’t want me to be irresponsible, either. I want to look ahead to something good, but the loneliness of the present casts a cloud over my thoughts of the future.

At the store, I saw a decorative pillow that read, “Family is Forever.” My response was, “Not really – people die.” There is no promise in Scripture, that I am aware of, that our earthly relationships will continue on after this life.  What is eternal is God and our relationship with Him. I want so much for this to be enough. I want the significance of being chosen by God to penetrate my heart so that I stop searching for my value in the love of other people. I want to find my purpose in serving God – in following Jesus. I want to figure out how to live my life based on that instead of striving for human approval and love. What would my life look like if following Christ were truly my primary objective? How different would it be from how I am living now?

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