What the Future Holds

February 10th, 2014 Posted in writing

Last week the eyes of more than a few of us were turned towards a little town in Pennsylvania waiting for a groundhog named Phil to see or not see his shadow and thus let us know if Spring this year will be early or late. This ritual is just another manifestation of something very old, for seeking to know the future goes back a lot further than the lowly groundhog. For instance, reading the entrails of birds was common practice in ancient Rome, as was the throwing of yarrow sticks in China.

But is it always a good thing to know what’s coming, or does that take the adventure and mystery out of life? Perhaps there’s such a thing a thing as appropriately not knowing what’s coming.

Interestingly, Jesus seems to have known a bit about that. St. Paul wrote that Jesus put aside the “perks” of divinity during his earthly life (Philippians, chapter 2), and most of us think that being all-knowing is one of these. So even though Jesus said his Father knows the fall of every sparrow and has counted every hair on our heads, his own human knowledge grew (St. Luke, chapter 2), and even as an adult it kept growing — the Roman centurion’s faith was unexpected as was Nicodemus’ lack of understanding.

However we choose to parse this mystery in Jesus without falling into some ancient heresy, I have become more comfortable thinking that the greatness of divinity lies not in God’s knowing so much, but rather God’s loving and caring about us so much that he offers hope, comfort and grace in any situation, no matter how difficult or sad.

So, all we really have to know about the future is that God will be with us whatever that future is. And we don’t need the stars in the heavens or Punxsutawney Phil to tell us more.

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