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On the Future

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On the Future

Gary's faith walk

Arching her back, Tessa Anne pushes her bow-covered head against my upper arm. For seven days now, I have witnessed again the miracle of new life. For seven days, I’ve had the joy of holding my granddaughter, the first girl in our family in three generations. The happiness has been absolutely electric for a family spread across the United States!

Gazing into the eyes of a newborn in Montana, it is impossible not to ponder the future—both hers and mine. Will she hike mountains? Will she ride horses? Will she know peace? And, how will I accompany her in the years ahead? How long can I bend to play blocks and do puzzles on the floor? Will I be present to watch her graduate from high school, college? Or, witness her marriage? What of me and my spirit will I share with her that will help shape her mind and soul?

This reflecting on one’s own future is tricky stuff. A modern sage has written, “The function of the future must be, then, not simply the achievement of the goals and dreams of the present. The function of the future is to keep us growing beyond our own small designs for ourselves in the present.”

“…to keep us growing beyond our own small designs for ourselves…” That is the challenge isn’t it? We each carry the baggage of our past into the living room of our present. And, we keep tripping over these suitcases of baggage as we go about our today, and certainly as we ponder our tomorrow. This baggage affects our belief in the Divine, our daily relationships, the work we do, our political outlook… and perhaps most of all our willingness to be someone different than who we are today.

In my faith walk, I have always been struck by the wisdom of the Old Testament text, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 18 -19)  

So, is there something in the birth of this child and the pondering of her future that has the power to reshape my future? Can her newness and her future dreams be enough to call me to new ways of living as well?

Of course there are the practical answers: exercise more, lower my cholesterol, ski safely on the mountain. And then, there are the broader answers. How long will I “work” before I create more space in my life for this growing family? Will I follow my own remaining dreams and become a “happier” grandparent for her to know? And, which of these dreams are a part of God’s plan for my life versus ideas emerging from my own ego? 

So this day, I sit with Tessa Anne cradled in my arms and ponder the future. Her steel blue eyes examine my face once more, and then she drifts off again into sleep. This is the gift. This is the joy. It is time for me to let the future be God’s. As the 19th century preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, reminds us, “You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it.”

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Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

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grandchildren, future, grandparent, Tessa Ann, Gary's Faith Walk

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