I remember back when I was a child of about 10 or 12 years of age, thinking about what life might be like in the future. At that age I was mildly interested in astronomy, so when I learned about Haley’s Comet in school I calculated how old I would be in 1986, when it was predicted that the comet would pass close enough to the earth that we would be able
to see it without a telescope! At that time 1986 seemed to be the distant future to me – after all, I would twenty five years old by then! Quite possibly married and living who knows where!
As it turned out by the arrival of Haley’s Comet I had been married for about two years. I did make an effort to view the comet on a few occasions, but the experience fell far short of my expectations. I was expecting this gloriously bright light illuminating the night sky with a long blazing tail of burning debris trailing behind, just like I had seen in the masterfully drawn picture in my fourth grade science book. What I remember actually seeing was this tiny streak of light that was barely visible when the conditions were ideal for a few moments on a couple of evenings. It was all rather disappointing.
Today is the first day of 2016! Since that experience in 1986, I have found that life has frequently been like that. I would get an idea in my head of how I wanted my future to be and begin to look forward to it only to discover that once that future arrived, it looked nothing like what I had imagined it to be. I soon realized that if I did not do something to change this pattern, I was destined to a life of one disappointment after another.
I do not recall where I first came across the idea, but it struck me as an incredibly creative way to prevent future disappointment. It is possible that it hit me about the time I took up target archery as a hobby for a time. It occurred to me that planning goals in life is very much like target shooting. You prepare all you equipment, the bow, the arrows, the target, etc. Then you aim carefully and release the arrow. I soon noticed that it very rarely hit the center of the target. I did get to the point were at about twenty yards I could group five arrows within a five or six inch diameter spacing. I also realized that if I had placed the target about two inches lower and and inch to the left, most of the arrows would have been in the bullseye. Then it hit me! If I would should shoot the arrows first, and then go paint a target around them – I could get a bullseye every time!
This is the methodology that I have since applied to planning my future. I have found that if I can live each day to the best of my ability and to the glory and honor of God, at the end of the day I can look back and, in a manner of speaking, paint a target around the goals that I have hit. This has done two things for me. First, I’m less likely to get bummed out because I have fallen short of some great and glorious goal that I had envisioned myself reaching, and second it allows me to actually live in the present more fully.
Now this is not to suggest that I make no goals or plans for the future. I do look ahead and prepare for the future, rather like making certain that my archery equipment is in good shape prior to going to the target range. Perhaps I could describe it more precisely as having learned how to set goals that are not only realistic, but also a little flexible…so that if circumstances change and the target has to be moved a little – I can still chart it in the success column. It is also entirely possible that it is merely a psychological way of manipulating the data so that I don’t feel like a loser, when in fact I might be one! Which brings up the question…who exactly determines whether one has succeeded or not? Do I measure myself by the success or failure of people around me? Seems to me that somewhere around 2 Corinthians 10 the Apostle Paul cautions that “those who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves are not wise.” In other words, no matter how big I win, there will always be someone who has won bigger, which will make me feel like a loser. And no matter how badly I lose, there is always someone who has lost more that can make me feel like I don’t have it so bad.
Now, I have found that there is a measuring stick that we can use that puts us all in the same category. This is how it works. If we use God’s system of measurement, we soon find that not one of us is good enough to be called a “success” by His standard. This puts us all, regardless of class, color or station into the same category. The playing field has no been leveled…and we have all been found to be “losers”. However, Jesus Christ has changed the whole ball game by what he did for us when He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sin and to purchase for us a place in His eternal kingdom. While it is true that we all begin as losers, we all have the opportunity to become winners when we choose to stop trying to win our own way, and decide to trust the word of God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. When we play by His rules – everybody wins! Well, everybody except the devil who was the biggest loser right from the beginning.
As we begin another New Year in 2016, there is no better time to make the choice to join the winning team by choosing to trust in Jesus Christ. As always this is a choice you must make… you either trust Him or you don’t – there is no half way. You can’t have one foot in heaven and other in the world. You either choose to be all in – or all out. The choice is yours. If you are not ready to make that choice at this point it does not exclude you from the game, but it does put you at risk of finding yourself on the losing side when the final buzzer sounds. To me it does not make sense to take that chance, but as I said, the choice is yours. Whatever you decide, may 2016 be a most blessed and prosperous year for you and all those you consider to be your family!