Raise your hand if you’d like to be able to predict the future.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know how the story’s going to unfold? Whether you’re going to conceive – and when? Or whether you’re not? Whether you’re going to adopt a healthy, beautiful baby? Or whether, at some point, you’ll move on to live life without children?
What will happen?
Wouldn’t you give anything to know?
You’re not alone.
A friend confessed to me that she’s begun seeing a psychic. Her need-to-know overcame her initial unease, and she made an appointment. Reassured by the predictions she was given, she quickly became addicted. She’s now a regular, allocating portions of each week’s budget to psychic predictions.
The “need” to know can make us all do crazy things.
This morning, I read about a king turning to his captive for dream interpretation. It seemed crazy to his royal counselors, but threatened by a dream he could not understand, Pharaoh called on Joseph to tell him what it meant for the future. Generations later, Nebuchadnezzar asked the same of Daniel.
These rulers were used to absolute power. But, they knew they were at the mercy of an unseen, unknown future. They needed to know what was coming — and God’s followers knew Someone with the answers.
When Pharaoh called for Joseph to explain his dream’s meaning, Joseph responded, “I cannot do it, but God will….” Daniel had a similar exchange with Nebuchadnezzar. He said, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who can….”
The prideful arrogance of both kings made them want to resist God, but their urgent need to know caused them to humble themselves – briefly – and admit, “I need to know what God has to say to me.”
There have been times – especially recently – when sobering statistics have made me want to know the future with certainty. The doctor has told me the odds of a particular outcome and I’ve felt a surge of fear. And a need to know. In the moment, I’m tempted to attribute god-like powers to the doctor so that he can tell me what will happen. But he can’t really.
He can speculate, based on the available test results and those who’ve covered this same ground before us. He can make an educated guess. He can even pretend to know (like my friend’s psychic). But the truth is, he doesn’t know. Only God knows.
And only God can tell me, if He so chooses.
If He doesn’t? Then, like my friend, I can create false gods. I can resort to substitute sources of information — people who believe in their ability to predict my future (especially if I’m paying them). I can tell myself to trust them, and project onto them a level of knowledge and understanding that they don’t actually have. I can choose to believe, “now, I know” and put my energy into proving them right.
But experience has taught me, none of that will bring peace.
Or, I can follow the kings’ example. I can recognize my limitations – and those of the people I typically consult as I try to anticipate what’s coming. And then, I can give God my undivided attention: “What do you have to say to me, Lord? What do you want me to hear? You’re the only One who knows what’s coming… and I’m listening.”
With those words, I fling open the door, welcoming Him into my story and the future that only He knows.