A Great Blue Heron flies into the sunset in Laurens County, Georgia.
Birds are inspirational. They can teach us a lot about life, faith and forward movement.
Photography by Curtis and Norma Beaird
Article by Curtis Beaird
Once upon a time, anticipation was the engine of the future.
Well, at least my future. Today was good, tomorrow would be better. All I had to do was wake up in the morning.
The present moment, whatever it might be, was all prelude to a bright and shiny future. Digging ditches in the summer put jingle in my jeans, gas in the tank and tuition money in my bank account. A hot, dirty day in a ditch was what I did while looking forward to the good times. Cruising my 1955 Ford. Arm out the window. Girlfriend tucked in behind me. Heaven on a bench seat.
Even if the day was long and tedious, the view of tomorrow was a vision, a dream, a list of possibilities a mile long. The real issue was sorting through all the options. Dreams had a way of living in spite of the context, in spite of institutional stupidity; and, what I learned to call systemic evil. I lived with an open future.
Later, Alvin Toffler became the new guru in town. A futurist who brought us "Future Shock", which to me was no shock. I found whirl a good thing. I don't do boredom. It gets me in trouble.
I was not alone in my thinking. I found many others on this road of optimism. Without realizing it, we lived by cliches. Later, some of us would call those cliches rose-colored glasses. For us, the future would be a hopeful unfolding. The glass was always half full. The sky was the limit. No - check that - there were no limits. Unique people secure in their personhood would know no boundaries.
Then it happened. “Wars and rumors of wars” took over. The assumed bright and shiny future of our unbridled optimism found itself trapped in the reality of limits, the consequences of bad decisions, and dreams discovered to be illusions. It was the Tower of Babel all over again. We were scattered.
In the shuffle of pain that followed, we found trolls under the bridge. A lot of trolls. The stock market crashed again and again. Social issues revealed the giant cracks in our culture. Then, a 9/11 forced us to admit that all things bright and beautiful just might not tint the shimmering light on the horizon. Instead, storm clouds gathered. The future broke bad. It was now shrouded in grim uncertainty. We discovered fear. We discovered anger. We discovered blame. It was “their” fault. We escaped.
We escaped into nostalgia.
From home design, mid-century modern, to photography, old barns and plowed fields, we rushed into remembering the past the way we wish it had been. “My hometown” we sang. “Simpler times,” we told ourselves. Turning our face away from the future, we stalled.
Is there a better way? Is there a better way to the future? Yes! But, the truth of Johnny Lee’s, “looking for love in all the wrong places” applies as effectively to hope, vision and dream, as it does to love. Searching for the future in all the wrong places leads to dead ends, not to a fresh tomorrow.
The future begins here:
1. Jesus said to his disciples. “……I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:20 We are never alone in our endeavors regardless of how it feels. “Stuck” is a state of mind. It is the backside of "there are no limits.” The presence of Christ changes everything. He frees us to get on with it.
Life is lived forward.
2. Paul to the Philippians. "…..forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 God calls us into the future. If we focus on Jesus Christ, we will turn our face toward tomorrow. In His Spirit and by His truth we will move in our intended direction—toward the future.
3. From Matthew's Gospel. “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13. No one said it would be easy. However, we assumed it would be. We thought all that was necessary was a little bit of education mixed with hard work, a few extra dollars, and our kingdom would come in. It didn’t happen.
We discovered that we were not in charge.
Things spun out of control. Thankfully, Matthew steps in to tell us the truth. The way to the future goes by the way of endurance. The Christian life is a marathon. The way of faith knows nothing of giving up. The goal is achieved by those who endure. His truth frees us to turn strong to meet the day.
4. The Apostle Peter quotes the prophet Joel to those gathered at Jerusalem "… I will pour out my My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” Acts 2:17 Clearly, God and the free gift of His Spirit is the source of anything worthy of the word Dream. God and the free gift of His Spirit is the source of a clear understanding of the future. God and the free gift of His Spirit is the source of visions capable of drawing us into the future.
My Dad was forever saying, ”Son, I wake up in a new world every day.” When I couple his view of the future with the promise and calling of God, I’m gifted with the question born of anticipation and faith...
Copyright 2015, Curtis and Norma Beaird. All rights reserved.