The Unknown Future

The scrawled note was from Jacqueline Kennedy to her personal assistant. The date on the note was November 22. It gave the schedule for the day…

8:45 Breakfast

10:45 leave for airport

11:35 arrive Dallas

Motorcade

Lunch

2:00 Leave Lunch

The luncheon and the leaving of the luncheon never happened. Jackie’s plans and those of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, were tragically changed by the assassination of the president that day.

One of the simple but all-important truths we need to accept of life is that it’s unpredictable. As the famous line from Robert Burns’ poem of 1786, To a Mouse, states, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

Someone was once asked that if he could have one wish what would it be. He replied, “To know the place where I’m going to die.” He was asked why. He said, “So I can stay away from there.” His wish will never be granted. The future is not ours to plan, at least not definitively, that’s God’s domain.

The great theologian Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” My mother would often conclude her description of any plans she had with the line, “The Lord willing.” I find myself doing the same.

The future, including our efforts to plan for it, is just another facet of life where we’re to have faith and trust in God, exhibiting a willingness to yield to His will and purposes, however different they might be from our own. There is one aspect of the future that we do have control over and that is the guarantee of having God with us and for us in our future, if we so decide. I’ve always taken comfort in the old saying, “We can’t know what the future holds, but we can know the One who holds the future.”

Certainly God wants us to plan ahead, we’d be irresponsible not to do so. It’s just that we should do so by adding the footnote “subject to change.”

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

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