Saturday, September 11, 2010

Future wisdom and future grace

I was working on the quilt tonight, trying to get the borders on so I can get it quilted and bound.  I was thinking about an interview I heard on the radio back in August, so while I ironed, I listened again to this piece with Roseann Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash. 

Cash talked about a harrowing experience she'd had 28 years ago and reflected that she'd had to borrow from her future that night.  Her interviewer defined that borrowing as "knowing that you will have strength, wisdom, and fortitude you don't have now." Cash offered that one thing she'd like to teach her children is to know that
"whatever they're going through now, whatever difficult thing, hopelessness isn't necessary because later on you may have the tools, the wisdom, the experience to understand why you're going through it now, what it means..."
It struck me when I heard the interview, that this is a helpful view to have.  In the midst of a trial, we might remind ourselves that when we get through it, we will have learned something, and gained some perspective and understanding.  While we're in the trial, we can lean on that future wisdom to fight hopelessness.  I think that is what Cash was saying.

For a believer in Jesus, hopelessness is never necessary.  It's tempting, for sure, but never the only option. Being in a painful crisis, experiencing the crush of disappointment and not seeing a way out, hope is hard to grasp.  I once wrote in my journal, 
The thought came into my mind that I would never be happy again.  I would never again enjoy a time without fear and care...the innocent, happy, peaceful times of life are over.
When I listened to Cash speak of borrowing from the future, I thought of that journal entry, of the circumstances that put me in despair, and of what lifted me out of that mire. It was words of Piper and Lloyd-Jones (in Future Grace) and the Psalmist, strong reminders that God is faithful to all of his promises. It was reminders not of future wisdom that might be mine, but of future grace.

Piper said we live our lives between two lines of Amazing Grace. "Tis grace has brought me safe thus far."  That's where we are.  "And grace will lead me home."  That's where we're going.  All the way, grace carries, supplies, sustains.

In a hard spot, banking on future wisdom that comes with age and experience can be useful and helpful. The problem is it depends on me.  It assumes I will get wiser.  I hope I have.  I think I have.  This is a safe assumption for some people.  If we learn from our mistakes, then borrowing from the future can be a reliable strategy in the fight against hopelessness. But for a Christian, there is something better, something more sure. The Psalmist repeats it in Psalms 42 and 43:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  -Psalm 42:5 and 11 and 43:5
The Christian can hope in God, hope in his goodness, his faithfulness, his patience, his grace.  Listening to Roseann Cash reminded me of that.


erin said...

i've spent the afternoon catching up on blogs and i must say that reading yours is always good for my soul. it makes me praise God for His wisdom, creation, & grace in giving us good things in life.
thanks for writing, dear.
love you!

ed elliott said...

I greatly appreciated this post. These are hard days for me. When I reached my 40-years in Christ milepost on March 2nd, and looked back, all i could see (for a few minutes anyway) was depression, fruitlessness, struggle, and battles with severe mental illness. It scared me because it was the 1st time I'd ever looked back like that with an unmixed downside ... and then thoughts of Lindele and Amber and many I've befriended helped me. But I've not gotten over that terrifying look back.

It is good for me to daily remember that His steadfast Grace has brought me this far, and His Grace will indeed bring me home. In the meantime, I daily pray that I not resist or resent His pervasive Providence, but bow submissively before it...not demanding a more-satisfying place of service in His Kingdom. I enjoy your blog; perhaps its tone of thankfulness most of all. Love, Uncle Eddie.