by Leanne Swift
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Have you ever been in a job interview, or other scenario where the question has been asked of you, “where do you see yourself five years from now?.” It’s one of those questions that makes me cringe, and panic slightly. What’s the right answer? Should you be humble and say, “I’ll be happy in the role I’m applying for,” or go big and bold and say, “Running the company with a big wage, fancy car and maybe a yacht!”
The truth is, I have no idea where I’ll be in five years, I didn’t know five years ago, and I still don’t know now. In fact, if you’d asked me five years ago, there is no way I’d have guessed I’d be living where I am, with two kittens, still working in care with a 2-year-old nephew and feeling like life is good. I take comfort in knowing that not one person asked that question in 2015 got it right! If they had said in lockdown due to a pandemic, they’d have been laughed out the office, yet that is exactly what happened, more than a year of restrictions on life, shielding, social distancing, wearing masks, not going out and virtually living in loungewear.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs, we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us the future, or a genie in a lamp to ensure all our dreams come true, we wake up each day, not always knowing what the day will hold. If you’re like me, you may have a to do list for the day, you will have an idea of all the things that are on, all things you need to do and then the things you’d like to do if there’s time.
This is great, and it certainly means I can face the day partly prepared, but I’ve lost count of how many times, despite my careful planning and lists, my day has been thrown off. Whether it’s a flat tyre, getting stuck in traffic, being on hold on the phone longer than you wanted, an unexpected but welcome visitor, simply not feeling well enough, or any other of a plethora of reasons, my day just hadn’t gone as I had hoped. But does that mean there’s no hope and we should give up trying and planning? Not at all!
“11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.“
God spoke this promise directly to the Israelites when they were held captive in Babylon, living subjugated and feeling like there’d be no end to their suffering. They didn’t know what the future held for them, they were hopeless, desperate, feeling like there wasn’t a future for them, and yet, God broke in.
As much as this was a promise, it was also a key reminder, even when we can’t see the bigger picture, God does. God sees our lives laid out in front of him like a book, He knows what we have gone through, he knows how we’ve been hurt, our successes and failures. Where we are right now and how we are, God sees and cares and is right with us in it, whatever our circumstances may be. Unlike us, God sees the future, He knows all that He has in store for us, all that will happen, every mountain high and valley low, God sees them coming, and as He did to the Israelites, He promises to be there with us when we seek Him and call on the name of Lord, helping us to grow and prosper.
With this promise we can rest assured, while we may not know what each day may hold, what we will face, God does, and He invites us to call on His name, to meet with Him and to walk with God through all we might face.
Does this mean life will all be hunky-dory, and nothing will ever go wrong again? No. But God is inviting us into relationship, through prayer, through His word in the Bible, through His Spirit which dwells in us and speaks to us, in all these ways and more. God has given us a way to be in conversation with the one who knows all that will happen and to never abandon us. So, whatever we face, we know God is right there with us, giving us the strength and hope to make it through. As the apostle Paul puts it,
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:21-25)
I hope, we can take this as an encouragement and challenge, to see beyond ourselves and where we are now, to see beyond the anxieties we may have for the future and to look towards God’s will, to remain hopeful in light of all that our Lord Jesus has done for us.
I believe that God is leading us as churches on a path to something positive, and just as we have listened to His will in appointing Rob as our full time minister from September and to Jade’s appointment as Minister in training, as we follow His guiding with the activities and outreach we do, I hope we will continue to spend time in prayer and reflection, seeking with all our hearts God’s will for us, as individuals, as churches and as a wider community.
Let’s pray, encourage, and walk alongside each other, reminding everyone we meet of the promises and faithfulness of God, so that we may stand firm through all that life brings us and rest assured that there is hope for the future.