Monday, February 12, 2007


joH'a' DichDaq rIn vetlh nuq SaHta' jIH
The LORD will fulfill that which concerns me Psalm 138:a

Have you ever experienced "pre-nostalgia?" That's what I call it when you longingly remember a future... that never happened. It's summed up in the forthcoming book "Where's My Jetpack?" 'A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived.'

I think such wistful thoughts when I remember the (now-demolished) exhibit at Disney's Epcot, Horizons - that took you on a tour of the future, replete with space colonies, desert farming and under-sea cities. You can experience this feeling too - choose the right SF book from the fifties, and you'll be disappointed that you didn't graduate from a high school on the moon or Mars.

Yet - if you look at things again, you have plenty of things in this world - routine images (near live) from Mars and the outer planets - not to mention satellite communications - things that would have astounded and delighted space cadets of yesterday. We haven't got robots everywhere, but we have computers embedded in just about every kind of appliance possible. Home access to massive libraries of text and video. Our disappointment over lost tomorrows ought not to dilute our gratitude for the today we have.

joH'a' DichDaq rIn vetlh nuq SaHta' jIH
The LORD will fulfill that which concerns me Psalm 138:a

This verse brings us back to our future with confidence. Not a confidence in fictional tomorrows that may or may not come to pass, but a confidence in the future God will faithfully bring us to.

The LORD will fulfill....

The word "fulfill" here is rare - it only occurs about 5 times in the Bible. "gamar" is a primitive root meaning to end (in the sense of completion or failure): and is translated in the KJV as cease, come to an end, fail, perfect, perform. The sense understood here is "to perfect," to complete. I've used the Klingon word "rIn" be accomplished, finished.

There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. In a world wracked with war, disease, poverty or any number of problems, it is difficult to look forward with confidence. But this isn't new. David too, struggled with problems, with war, with family strife - but he could still have confidence in the outcome, that "The LORD will fulfill that which concerns me." This is a faith in the future, not of false optimism, but knowledge that God can be trusted. This is the kind of faith that made Job - in the midst of crushing loss -cry out

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25)

It's a mistake to bank on the glossy optimism of dated science fiction stories, but it is equally a mistake to let pessimism take over - to despair, to give up. We can still plan, we can still hope - not depending on our success, but committing ourselves to continue on with the work we've been given.

There is a story ascribed to different people, from ancient Rabbis to Martin Luther. I found a version on the website that goes something like this:

When asked what he would do if he knew the world would end tomorrow, Martin Luther replied, "I would plant a tree." What kind of an answer is that? Why plant a tree when the world is ending tomorrow? It sounds so futile, a total waste of time and energy. Isn't there something more important he could find to do? ... But with his answer, Luther demonstrates a better understanding of the words of Jesus and of Paul than many of us have today. Our knowledge of Christ's promised return ought not spur us to play waiting or guessing games with times and dates. Our job is not to look for signs; our job is to be about the work of the kingdom. Luther's answer, "I'd plant a tree", is in effect "I would continue on with my business just as I do today." (

No - I won't hold my breath waiting for the jet pack - or a vacation on Mars. On the other hand, it doesn't mean I won't work with the tools and gifts I have at hand to - if not accomplish those goals, to help find ways where the future can be a brighter place. I may not succeed - but that isn't my job - after all,

joH'a' DichDaq rIn vetlh nuq SaHta' jIH
The LORD will fulfill that which concerns me Psalm 138:a

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