Sermon Leftovers #5: If I Knew the Future…

We covered a ton of great stuff in last Wednesday’s study through Acts 20, but there was a lot that I didn’t have time to expound on too. This Sermon Leftover blog is from that Wednesday night study as well as yesterday’s blog post, Put Yourself First.

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Wouldn’t it be sweet to know the future? No. I don’t think it would be.

I mean, I guess there are certain times that it would come in handy – a minute before a car crash so you have time to avoid it, a few seconds before you spill your drink all over your nice clean shirt on your lunch break… I’m sure you can think of a few others.

However, when it comes to knowing the future about what will happen as you follow the Lord, I think it’s better that God spares us the details at certain times.

I love how Paul addressed this issue in Acts 20. He told the Ephesian pastors that he knew suffering was coming, but that’s it. He knew no other details besides that it wasn’t going to be “a walk in the park.” Here are his words from Acts 20:22-24…

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:22-24

He didn’t know much about what the future held, but he knew one thing for sure: there would be suffering.

Don’t get me wrong. God is very detailed about the future at times (read Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation), but many times in our personal lives, He likes to leave a little mystery in it.

Here are two reasons I think it’s healthy that God doesn’t always spell out the future for us…

1) We wouldn’t be “walking by faith” then.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

There’s no need for faith if God shows us everything that’s ahead – He’d be contradicting His own command by not allowing us to walk by faith. Sight removes the faith factor. God knows that. He knows that the best way for us to learn to trust Him is for us to walk into some situations where we are forced to lean completely on Him. Those situations are scary…and healthy for us.

2) We might change plans.

A few months ago on a Wednesday night, I preached to 3 women and Nate. There were 4 women in Kids Ministry watching 18 kids, and since Denver was out of town and most of our guys are currently in Afghanistan, that left Nate, myself, and 3 women in the main service. I thought for a moment that I was teaching women’s ministry. Sounds awkward, doesn’t it? Honestly, I loved it. We had a great time and it wasn’t awkward at all (although I’m aware that it sounds like it would be very awkward). I preached like the room was full.

But let me be honest. If I had known about that Wednesday night while I was in Albuquerque making plans to uproot my family and move to start a church, I wonder what I would have thought. I’ll bet the temptation would’ve been heavy to not go.

Or how about the Flood of 2010 – the worst flood this part of the world has seen in hundreds of years. It just so happened that I moved to the area that would be flooded and started a church on the very street that got hit the worst. I would have never pictured myself going through what we went through when the church was flooded. I moved from New Mexico. Their state flower is the yucca (google it). Their grass is brown and cactus grows like weeds. It’s the land of tumble weeds. The last thing on my mind a year ago was what we’d do if the church got flooded. The last thing on my mind on May 2 (the day before the flood) was what we’d do if the church got flooded. Never. Crossed. My. Mind. Ever. But here we are – post-flood. I can now confidently say that we are better off for it.

If I knew that those situations (among many other things) would take place, I wonder what I would have thought. It certainly would have made staying in Albuquerque seem much more appealing. However, since God chose to spare me those details, we moved to Clarksville – flood and all. We are SO glad we did!

If I knew the future…it wouldn’t be good. God gives us just enough info to keep us going, but not so much that we have it all figured out. After all, He wouldn’t want to ruin the surprises, would He?!

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