Thursday, 3 December 2015

Facing an uncertain future

If life “under the sun” is meaningless and it’s basically unfair, how can we face an uncertain future?
“I am not trying to scare you here,” said Pastor Paul Vandenbrink during the fourth chapel in Spiritual Emphasis Week. “I am trying to push you so the opposite can happen.”
 
Vandenbrink said in his role as a pastor he has talked with many young people who are experiencing anxiety. He said we are healthier, wealthier and safer than any other culture in history, yet teen suicide is on the rise, more teenagers are taking sleeping pills and more young people are diagnosed with depression and anxiety than ever before.

But in the midst of a society experiencing increasing anxiety about the future, we can turn to the wisdom of the teacher as found in Ecclesiastes 11:1-6.

Instead of saying “hunker down and play it safe, protect yourself, don’t take any risks,” the teacher says the opposite, Vandenbrink says.

He says “cast your bread upon the waters,” which, in a subsistence society, would have been a foolish thing to do. But the teacher is challenging his listeners to think about what God can do. Instead of being cautious and stingy with what we’ve been given, we can choose to be bold, to “use those resources for God, for Jesus Christ.

“You will not be disappointed.”

Vandenbrink said he gave up a good job, a secure salary and a nice house in order to establish a new church, but it took him four years to finally follow God’s call.

“The truth is, most of us are afraid to live boldly,” he said. “But why are we so afraid to step out and try new things for the sake of the kingdom?”

The answer can also be found in the passage from Ecclesiastes: often we are paralyzed by fear of the inevitable. Just as rain clouds deliver rain or falling trees become immovable objects, so the inevitability of failure, hostility or rejection can paralyze us. Others are paralyzed by uncertainty (vs 4), and others are paralyzed by mystery – by their inability to comprehend the work of God “the maker of all things” (vs 5).

The fact is that life is unknowable and uncontrollable, he said, but just as Abraham obediently followed God to move to a new land or just as our vehicle headlights illuminate only a short section of the road in front of us, so we can trust God will show us enough of the way to safely proceed.
“God is in control. Our choices matter, but the final outcome is up to God,” Vandenbrink said. “How liberating is it to know that my decisions matter, but God, who loves me, is directing everything according to his ends.”

Jesus, who was the bread of life, allowed himself to be cast out and to sink under the judgement of sin for us, Vandenbrink said.

“What does Jesus have now that he didn’t have before his birth, death and resurrection?”
“It’s you.
“I promise you, God promises you that you will get a return far beyond anything you could ever imagine if you are faithful and leave rest up to God.”

A student praise team led in worship with “It is Well,” “I Am Free” and “My Redeemer Lives.”

Friday’s final chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week starts at 9:30. All are welcome to attend.


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