If you saw a university class with the title, “The History of the Future,” what would you think it would be about? How could someone teach the history of the future? How can history help us move into the future?
Think about yourself for a minute. When you were a child, what did you dream of becoming? By your senior year in high school, how had your plans changed? Looking at your life now, how many of your plans actually occurred just as you thought they would? What changed? Why did it change?
Now think about an example from scripture. As boy, the Peter probably dreamed of following in the family business even though fishing was a hard life and required both determination and leadership. Later, as a young man, Peter’s plans changed. He left his fishing business and followed Jesus, but his reasons had not yet found clarity. At first, his motives were political and his is agenda eclipsed Jesus’ agenda. There were arguments (Mark 8:32). Later still, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter’s plans changed again as he became an early spokesman for the Christian movement (Acts 2:14).
Looking back over his entire life, what changed and what remained the same in Peter’s life? What did his history reveal about his future?
Sometimes this is called “Faith in Process” and the steps are often as difficult as they are predictable as a person moves from one level of commitment to another. What steps did Peter go through as he changed from the proud Peter who argued with Jesus to the humble Peter who represented Jesus?
Step 1 – Pride – he didn’t listen or learn.
Step 2 – Failure – surprised @ failure.
Step 3 – Bewilderment – wandering in shock.
Step 4 – Listening – facing his own neediness.
Step 5 – Learning – with an open heart.
Step 6 – Change – God brings transformation.
In his classic, The Sacred Journey, Frederick Buechner writes:
“… to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still … the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept … a helping hand.” (pg 46).
Peter eventually unclenched his fists, and while God completely changed Peter’s heart, He left his personality intact. In fact, God dramatically brought Peter’s history in the future as He used Peter’s determination, drive, and leadership to launch the Christian movement.
And so, let’s go back to where we started – the history of the future. What have you tried? Where have you failed? How have you learned? What have you changed?
It’s the history of your future.
3 Replies to “The History of the Future”
Bob, I just read this quote recently in Disciplines for the Inner Life. I highlighted it when it caught my eye. Buechner describes this in a way I never could.
Bart, I probably first read it in Benson’s anthology and then searched out the original. Benson was first published in 1985, and shortly after I began to look for the books that he quoted and I consistently highlighted.
Felt so hopeless looking for answers to my qun.uionss..tetil now.