The purpose of hamster wheeling is in part to anticipate the future, get ahead of tomorrow and to paraphrase James 4:14 — you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You don’t know, you can’t know, and it’s a sin to try. We can imagine all the scenarios we want but ultimately, tomorrow will come and all we are in control of is our feelings, our thoughts, and our imagination.
Imagination is a tricky one because sometimes it can give us hope. It can be lovely to dream about joys to come. But it can lead us into dangerous territory where hopes become disappointments; far more crushing than things would have been had we just let events unfold naturally.
Proverbs 27:1 (MSG)
Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.
In our brokenness what we often imagine at best a God-shaped vacuum and at worst a place in which He only does the bidding of our selfish hearts. I’ve seen too many movies to not believe that exactly what we want is often the worst thing for us. There is no requirement of trust in these imaginings. Only reward. The perfect job, wife, child, car, whatever it is. This thing only exists to serve us and that is not love. Not love in the way God designed us. His perfect love drives out fear but when our imaginations turn on us, when they produce anxiety, worry, and depression — we project all of our miserable nature onto God. But this is not God. He is most careful with you.
Imaginations lie. They say we are not in God’s will for or lives. That this doesn’t look like what we thought it would. Or should. Or could. What if God has an individual plan for you and His perfect will is playing out in your life even if it doesn’t look like you expected? Like Noah, and Esther, and Joseph. I’m not saying if you cast down these imaginations your life will be easy. It won’t. It might even hurt some. In fact, it probably will. Sacrifice often does. In The Great Divorce as one of the Spirits recoils from being healed, the Angel responds, “I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.” But pain causes us to pay attention.
And God wants is our attention.
Matthew 6:34 (MSG)
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Whenever I hear of a Christian who is having just a miserable time of it I ask, “What are they doing right?”. Chances are they are having success in another area of their life. Whenever I see someone on the right path I always tell them to prepare for the mirage — the thing that looks like the perfect fulfillment of all their deepest desires but ultimately would lead to failure. It taunts them into thinking they are somehow outside of the will of God and if they would only move toward this faux oasis their needs would be quenched. In reality they are more firmly planted on the narrow path than they have ever been and their needs are being met more bountifully for having traversed it.
Darkness loves to distract. And that is was imaginations are. They confuse, preoccupy, agitate, and complicate. But God is none of those things. Not knowing the future means we get to trust, have the faith, without knowing how things will turn out. Believe it or not, this is love. Do you only want the things you can imagine? How many times have you heard people say, “It was better than I could have imagined” — that’s what God is preparing because He loves us.
Replace worry with prayer. Every day. God is love and He casts out fear. So we will not be afraid forever because we can pray for trust. We will not be miserable for long because we can be thankful. Not feel used because we can feel blessed. Not be ashamed because we have been delivered. We have been redeemed so we may live generously.