His favorite thing to do these days is drive. Whenever he can, he hops into his red convertible and takes it for a spin, even if it’s only to go around the block. He sits taller and smiles wider when he is behind that wheel.
Did I mention he is not yet two years old?
Driving captures his imagination. He is in cars so often, shuffling his older brother to and from preschool, running errands with his mom, traveling the distance to visit family. He sits in his car seat watching others drive and imagines what it will be like. What will happen when he is the one in control of making that magic machine called a car take him from one place to another.
His favorite thing to imagine is the day he gets to do something he cannot yet do. The day he gets to have something he cannot yet have.
Do we ever really grow out of that?
The dreams that consume a child’s play also consume the adult’s mind. We go to college and look forward to the day we will have a job. We are single and fantasize about the day we will be married. We rent an apartment and hope for the day we will own our own home. We are married and think about what it will be like when we have kids. We have a good job and make plans for the day we will have a better one.
We expend so much of today’s mental energy thinking of the tomorrows we hope to have.
In many ways, this is a beautiful expression of our humanity. We are imaginative creatures with the capacity to change over time. It is a joy to dream about how we will transform throughout our lives.
But in other ways, this fascination with the future is crippling.
We consume our thoughts with what else we want, what more we desire, and suddenly, what we have now doesn’t feel like enough. Our present circumstances start to feel itchy. Our heart looks for more comfortable surroundings and takes up residence in these future imaginings.
And then, what happens if this idealized future doesn’t come to pass?
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. – Proverbs 27:1
Life can change in an instant. There are no guarantees of what tomorrow will look like. As we wish and plan in our minds, we cannot let our hearts get too wound up in it all. We have to find a way to hold it all loosely.
We must find contentment in the present Even as we dream for the future. We must find contentment in the future Even when it doesn’t match our dreams. We must keep our dreams in perspective.
Perspective comes when we hold onto what is constant: God. A God who loves us. A God is present with us now and will be present with us in the future. A God who brings us joy and peace, no matter our circumstances.
Keep your lives free from the love of money (or the future or plans or dreams) and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:12-13
Do you think a lot about the future? What do you think? How can we dream without losing contentment?