Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Future

The future seems incredibly daunting. To be honest, it is terrifying. When I allow my mind to dwell on the future, panic invades my heart. I am confident this will not always be the case. However, it is reality at this point. My mind wants to return to that place where dread dwells. My thoughts run to the dark shadows of a very undesirable place in time.

So, what can I do with all the uncertainties and “what-ifs” of life? My dear friend, Billy Graham encouraged me from his own experience with grief. He did what a good friend should do. He reminded me of what I already know, in order for me to apply the truth to my hurting heart.

According to scripture—the truth, how are we to handle an uncertain, scary, and dark future? First, remember God is present. Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” When Moses saw the burning bush and asked God what His name was, God simply replied "I Am." Jesus affirmed that He was the same "I Am" God. Why would God reveal Himself in this odd present tense? Most people introduce themselves with the things done in the past, or their dreams for the future. Not God; He is present. However, because He is the God of the present--this moment, does not suggest He cannot see the future. The future is as clear to Him as our past is clear to us. Actually, it is clearer. In Matt. 6:34 Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In these verses, He reminded us that He gives us bite size chunks of life, to be lived out daily--one breath at a time, while trusting in His sovereign plan for all our tomorrows.

Second, realize why the future is so frightening. The future frightens us because we cannot see God in the future. All we see is the ominous unknown and we imagine the worst case scenario. Praise God! He is with us in our present pain, sorrow, or suffering. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” There is a problem when we look toward the future: we cannot see what God will do, if the worst case scenario happens. We tend to see only that which causes us fear. If the worst possible dread becomes reality in our life, His presence becomes the difference between despair and hope.

Third, trust Him for tomorrow. Nothing intimidates God; however, we are intimated. In Ephesians, Paul reminded us that we are not unaware of the methods of Satan. Satan plays upon our fears to manipulate us into actions that ultimately do us harm. He does not respect our grief and pain; he delights in our suffering. He is a pervert! 1Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

I have purposed to pray and seek the prayers of friends so that I may not fall prey to Satan’s evil schemes. I struggle to focus and look to the future; when I do, I rest my fears upon the Lord. I trust my future to Him. He is not unfaithful. He is LORD! I find with grief, grace is abundant and obvious.

Thank you for Praying!
Ed Litton

2 comments:

Dee Dee Owen said...

Pastor,
It is in deep pain such as this, where the word "grace" becomes more than a spoken word we use to describe God's goodness, or a hymn we sing about our salvation. It is here, in deep pain, where grace becomes alive, and too, it becomes the word of RESCUE that it is, and something you can almost physically touch. It is here, where you EXPERIENCE the written truth that God's grace is SUFFICIENT and that His strength IS made PERFECT in our weakness.
2 Corin. 12:9

I am heartened to have witnessed you........still.......ministering from the hospital --and all the way through----- to this blog. And it blesses my soul to SEE God's grace IN ACTION through you. You ARE a TROPHY OF GOD'S GRACE!!

You told me the other the day that you were "breathing," (after I asked how you were doing). Well, I can't think of a better response to God's grace, when I am sure you feel breathless at times and want to give up. And yet, it is obvious that grace being the gift that it is, has given your despair a gift..........of PRAISE, for our Lord, reflected in Psalm 150:5 --

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150:5
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Keep praising and reaching for the hand of God. Every morning, He has more grace to come. And it does come to dwell with your pain. But with God on your side, you will make it to the other side
of this storm.

James 4:6-8
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud but
gives grace to the humble."
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

We love you and are so proud to have you as our shepherd. God bless you and those sweet children of yours. You are in our prayers.
DeeDee & Gene Owen and Dane & Jon

Garrett Hughes said...

Pastor Ed,
Melanie and I didn't get to see you at Tammy's funeral or wake, but we were there...along with all the hundereds of folks you guys have ministered to and touched. I've been trying to decide how to tell you how much ya'll mean to us and how our hearts are heavy and broken for you guys. I remembered a time...way back in the intern days at FBNM when you asked all the staff a question on a survey. You asked us if North Mobile was a factory what would it produce. I answered...FAMILIES. Families who love the Lord and serve Him. I think God is still doing that. Mostly through your example. I hear the stories....(Mark and I eat lunch together.) You and Tammy both ministered to me and Mel during a really dark time. The future to me seemed incredibly bleak. I know it was different circumstances and the pain was totally different. But the hugs you guys gave...wow, Christ shows up in so many ways...the hugs were something we were missing from friends. And we remember you guys as folks who gave hugs during that time. Jesus is speaking to me about pain now too. He's telling me the truth behind Jer. 29:11. In context those verses describe horrible events and then the Lord says, but I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, "The problem with pain"...the problem with pain is that it tends to overwhelm our ability to see and hear God. I'm glad to know that there are men like you in the world who when the pain comes....still hear God. We Love you guys.....I can't wait to see you and give you a hug. In the meantime, can you hug the boys and Kayla for us. We love you
Garrett, Melanie, & Garner Hughes