By Julia Bennett
I recently read the book “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis, a book I strongly recommend if you are wanting to better understand spiritual warfare. The book is written from the perspective of a senior demon, Screwtape, writing letters to his younger and less experienced nephew, Wormwood, who is working on a young Christian to stop his effectiveness for the Gospel and pull him away from God. One of the sections that impacted me the most was when Screwtape is advising Wormwood on one of the ways to make the young believer feel uncertain in life and untrusting of the Lord. To paraphrase, he explained that the best thing he could do would be to keep the young man fully focused on the future. He said that if he was focused on the future it would look so hazy that he would worry and be so incapacitated by the uncertainty of it all that he wouldn’t be able to focus on today. He suggested that if he must focus his thoughts somewhere other than the future, the past was acceptable but there would be risk that he would see the faithfulness of God in it. Mostly, he cautioned him not to let the young man focus on the present because if he was focused on the present he would be stewarding that day well, walking in obedience and not worrying.
“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
— C.S. Lewis (“The Screwtape Letters)
In each season of life it is easy to focus on the next season, especially in the name of preparing for it. As a college student, calling, future and plans are somewhat buzz words. We are all earning degrees with the intent of preparing for the rest of our lives, which can often give me tunnel vision towards the future. However, I know this feeling is not limited to the university experience.
The Lord has been recently reminding me that the future is not mine to worry about or focus on because it is not mine. It is not my responsibility.
James 4:13-17, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
In the scheme of things, our lives are short mists that appear for a moment and then pass away. Yet, they are extraordinary gifts from God that we should steward well. Part of stewarding that well is by trusting God with your tomorrows and focusing on daily obedience for today.
All we are responsible for is today and our actions. If you really think about it, today is the future you used to worry about. Did your worrying about it change anything?
Luke 12:25-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
The future is God’s. Our focusing too much on it does not benefit us, it actually distracts us from serving Him well today. Seek first the kingdom of God as you love God and others around you today, and He will take care of your tomorrows.