Meet the Robinsons—one of Disney’s latest releases—wasn’t exactly a blockbuster hit. (In fact, I don’t think it even came close!) But the gist of the plot is at least worth a quick look:
Lewis is an ambitious, 12-year-old orphan with an unusual interest in inventing gizmos. However, his wacky inventions (which tend to go haywire) make Lewis seem so bizarre that no adopting family is willing to take him. He’s frustrated about his failed inventions and concerned that no one will ever adopt him.
Long story short, Lewis gets to travel to the future and discovers that he not only becomes a successful (and rich!) inventor but he’s also adopted into a large, supportive, loving family. Having the certainty that he is destined for a good life, Lewis goes back to his 12-year-old childhood with the assurance that “everything will work out.”
Good for Lewis—but how about for the rest of us?
We’re constantly bombarded with questions about our future. Where should I go to college? Should I go to college? Is my boyfriend/girlfriend “the one”? Unlike Lewis, we don’t have the luxury of seeing our future. We don’t always know that we’re making the right decisions today.
In the midst of a whirlwind of life decisions and disappointments, students are looking for guidance. I remember those days. My last year of high school, I was so certain of my college choice that I only applied to that school. Everything was set, until I visited the campus. I hated it! My certainty melted away and it was time to look into other options.
When an ACT score isn’t as high as we had hoped, or we don’t get that scholarship we counted on, our future can look a bit hazy; maybe downright foggy. We’d give anything for a brief glimpse into our future—even if it’s just for a second. Then we’d know what school we’redestined to attend, who we’re supposed to date and how everything is supposed to work out.
Apparently, some students think they can do this. That’s why almost every daily newspaper in the nation prints horoscopes. Every day, youth have “guidance” for where they should go, what they should do and who they should avoid. Too many youth take this advice to heart. According to a study conducted last year by The Barna Group, more than 25% of teens regularly check out their horoscopes and they believe them to be true. That probably means that 1 out of 4 teens in your youth group is looking for life guidance in the daily comic section. In your history class of 24 kids, 6 of them believe that because they’re a Taurus, this month they don’t have to study for the test to get the grade they want.
Sound shallow? It is.
Christians, have a much deeper, richer source of guidance in God’s Word. Consider this passage from Jeremiah 29:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.
This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
The Israelites in exile were asking the same questions that we ask today. They were God’s chosen people, but they had been dragged to a foreign land. They wondered, “Is this supposed to be happening? Has God forgotten us? What should we do now?” Notice that even those people were turning to their own horoscopes (i.e. false prophets, diviners) for guidance.
When all hope had seemed lost, God gave these words to His people. He showed them that even though they were surrounded by chaos, God had a plan. Those in exile could rejoice because God’s plan to give them “hope and a future” was dawning very soon.
“Well that’s great,” you say. “But what about ME? Where’s MY letter from God?” Don’t wait for God to post on your Facebook wall and tell you where to apply for school. In fact He’s already given you more than a post, or a letter; in fact, He’s already given you a whole book. In His Word, God reveals that He has complete control over your future. That’s especially clear in His message of salvation in Christ Jesus. Knowing that God has control, you are enabled to trust in Him. As you try your best to make the right, God-pleasing decisions for your life, you don’t have to worry that one wrong decision will steer you out of God’s control.
You don’t need a time machine, horoscope section, or crystal ball to know that you have been called to a meaningful life in the Church. In fact, in a few years you’ll be flat out shocked at how many places God has led you and how He has used you. The truth is (veritas!), it’s good that you can’t see your future because you probably wouldn’t believe what you saw.
Rest assured, your life will turn out differently from what you expect. The exiles surely experienced that reality. They returned home to form a nation that had a few short years of political independence before the Roman Empire came and swept the nation under its reign. They waited for a Messiah that would save them from Roman rule, but He never came (at least not in the way they hoped). All they got was a poor carpenter’s son who preached about the Kingdom of God coming to earth, but ended up getting executed by the Romans.
And no one could have planned it any better. Your hope for the future rests in the hands of the crucified Christ who has taken care of your greatest worry-life eternal.