CLUTCHING THE FUTURE
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Experienced Christians learn that the life of victory must be lived one moment at a time. There is manna for the day. We do not receive Tuesday’s grace on Monday. There always is grace and strength for the moment if we are living in the light of Christ’s Presence.
If you are like me, you will have a struggle learning to live a moment at a time. I always have been a worrier. A worrier is someone who tends to live in the future rather than in the present. This is not wise, because one—we do not know what actually will take place in the future; and two—there is no grace for the future.
One way of learning to live in the present is to take our fears one at a time and pray until we have peace that God has heard us.
Another practice is to pray concerning the symptoms rather than what we think the symptoms indicate. We may have recurring headaches. Before we go to the doctor we might ask the Lord to remove the headaches. Then, if they persist after direct prayer, we might ask the Lord about going to the doctor.
We may need new glasses, for example, so we probably will not get an answer to direct prayer for the headaches until we get new glasses. Perhaps the Lord will lead us to go to the doctor.
But I think too often people do not pray directly against the symptom but worry about possibly having a brain tumor. Never be afraid to go to the doctor; but pray first. The headaches may stop. This is part of living in the present.
I do not believe I can emphasize too strongly praying directly against the problem, rather than to spend our time trying to understand the source of the difficulty or pain.
Probably the central problem in living in the present is the tendency of some of us to clutch the future. There may be something we desire desperately, and we live in fear we won’t get what we want. Or we may dread something we think is going to happen to us.
Concerning clutching something we desire to hold onto, or something we want to obtain, this is idolatry—pure and simple. If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days of chaos in America we have to place everything and everybody, including our children, on the altar of God.
Once we dedicate our child to the Lord, then we are to do the best we can in training up the child in Christ. But as he gets older and begins to express himself or herself we have to learn how to place the youngster in the Lord’s hands. Otherwise we may interfere in the plan God has for the person.
Once a child reaches fifteen or sixteen years of age, it requires much prayer for wisdom, and much trust in the Lord, to successfully help the child on his or her way. And there may be years in which it seems we have failed.
Concerning fear and dread, the Lord will deliver us from all of our fears if we will keep asking Him to, and strictly obey Him in all He asks us to do. The fears and dreads more often than not are nothing more than demonic attacks. Instead of hiding under the bedclothes, we are to ask God in Jesus’ name to remove the feeling of dread.
I do not often attempt to command the demons, although sometimes I do. And I never attempt to command angels, as some are suggesting we do. Angels were created by God and belong to Him. We are wise when we allow Jesus to command the angels and mind our own business.
Even Jesus said He could pray to the Father, and the Father would send angels to help Him. Nowhere in the Bible, to the best of my knowledge, are we advised to ask angels for any kind of help. It is best to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. God then will instruct the angels as God sees fit.
I believe the same procedure is advisable in demonic attacks. Rather than “rebuking” evil spirits I think a better approach is to ask the Lord Jesus to rebuke the spirits, unless He directs us otherwise.
While I am on the subject, we never are to pray to the Holy Spirit, sing to the Holy Spirit, or attempt to command the Holy Spirit. There is no scriptural basis for such actions.
The Holy Spirit is like Eliezer of Damascus. He has been sent by the Father, as Abraham sent Eliezer, to get a bride for the Son. He never exalts Himself nor does He wish to be thanked or praised in any manner. He has been commissioned to present an unblemished bride to the Lamb, and that is all He cares about.
We have to have a scriptural basis for all that we do. Therefore do not pray to the Spirit, sing to the Spirit, or attempt to command the Spirit until you find a scriptural basis for doing so.
As we Protestants have left the dignity and gravity of Roman Catholicism, we have become giddy and silly. One of the churches up the coast from us had a pillow fight on Sunday morning. Some serve coffee during the offering. There are other totally unsuitable practices during an occasion that is supposed to be filled with the holy Shechinah.
We of the Charismatic persuasion need to become more aware that we are the Lampstand of God in the local neighborhood, not a funtime social gathering.
We however are not to retreat to the cumbersome religious regalia and symbolic gestures of Catholicism, which neither are scriptural nor efficacious. Rather we are to grow up in the forms of Protestantism until we are living in the Spirit of God, and finally enter the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We may think of the Scriptures as fences that prevent our launching out into undisciplined spiritual adventures and orgies while we are learning to live by the Life of Jesus.
Sometimes, while we are learning to live in the moment, we are guided into making plans for the future. There is nothing wrong with this. The Abenaki Indians used to say to watch your feet when going on a long journey. This means to me that although you have some idea of where you are heading, you work out the journey one step at a time, meanwhile inviting the Presence of Jesus into everything you do.
At no time are we to clutch relationships, things, or circumstances, in the present or the future. Everything is to be held lightly, ready to be surrendered to God in an instant. Our treasures are always to be in Heaven.
When Jesus told us to put our treasures in Heaven He did not mean we would never have them again. Rather Jesus was speaking of keeping them safe, just as one would put money in the bank. When we die, everything that will bring us righteousness, love, peace, and joy will be returned to us.
So we have a choice, don’t we. We can clutch our relationships, things, and circumstances now, and proceed to lose them and never have them again. Or we can hand them all over to Jesus, knowing they are kept safe by Him.
Whatever we clutch becomes a source of fear and worry. We may not consciously remind ourselves of our idol, but it is there in our subconscious mind. Satan then, speaking to our subconscious, threatens us with damage to or the removal of our idol. Thus we suffer continual apprehension when we should be enjoying perfect peace in the Lord.
There was a certain rich man who came to Jesus and asked Jesus how he might gain eternal life. The Lord told him to keep the commandments. Then Jesus advised him to sell his property, give to the poor, and follow Jesus.
This came as bad news to the rich young man, and he went away sorrowfully.
Just think! He traded life in the Presence of God for mansions, camels, sheep, and everything else he possessed. Actually, his wealth possessed him.
Where are the mansions now? Where are the camels and other animals now? They are under about sixty feet of accumulated sediment, it is estimated. Where is the rich young man now? Somewhere in the spirit world, torn with remorse over his foolish decision. He is not alone. He has plenty of company!
I suggested to the congregation last Sunday that when they got home to write down a paragraph or two about what they are going to say when they stand before Jesus and He asks them what they did during the days He gave them on the earth.
Can they say, “Lord, I realized that all of my relationships and things are perishing while I am using them. So I gave them all to you and lived a moment at a time, seeking Your will continually.”
I imagine a big grin would appear on Jesus’ face. He would say, “So you did,” and would reach out and give you a big hug.
Or will some say, “Lord, I tried to be a good person, although as You know I failed at times. However, I am hoping that by Your grace I am going to be given a mansion in which I can live for eternity.”
To these Jesus might ask, “Who told you that I gave you grace so you would not have to obey Me?”
How would you answer that question. You might say, “That is what my pastor taught me.”
But when you looked into those eyes of fire you realized that Christ was not accepting your excuse. He realized and you realized that your conscience was troubled when you left your husband and children for another man. But your love of pleasure was greater than your love for Christ.
You can imagine what the Lord would say after that!
We may express all kinds of philosophical reasons why we do what we do, but the truth is we do what we desire to do, if it is possible. Therefore we are wise when we ask God to give us His desires for us. The Bible says God opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.
One of our main problems is we do not know what we truly desire. We fasten on people, things, and circumstances that we think are our desire, but if we were to be given them we would realize they were not what we really wanted. Have you ever found that to be true?
The Scripture tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He shall give us the desires of our heart. So you can see how important it is that what you think you want is really what you desire.
There is a scriptural promise to the effect that God will not withhold any good thing from him who walks uprightly. If we will practice righteous behavior, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, we do not need to clutch anything. God will not withhold anything from us if it is good for us.
Much patience is required of us if we are to wait until God fulfills His promise. But then, patience is associated with the Kingdom of God, isn’t it?
(“Clutching the Future”, 3719-1)