Shaped by the future

If you have ever heard of Cassandra, it’s quite possible that it is a result of having to study Latin or classical studies at school or you’ve seen Emila Fox take the role of the tragic figure in Troy.

Cassandra truly was a tragic figure in ancient mythology. Cassandra, the story goes, was given a supernatural gift: the ability to predict the future. She knew what was ahead. She knew that the Trojan Horse was an enemy ruse and said so.

However, along with her gift came a curse. The curse meant that though she could foretell the future, no-one would ever believe her!

Jeremiah was a biblical prophet who sometimes must have felt that he was destined never to be believed, even though he was an authentic prophet of God. Time after time he spoke the word of God to God’s people – from kings and priests to the masses – yet over and over again his words met with rejection. And over and over again, God called him to speak out.

It is easy to categorise Jeremiah as a prophet of judgment who was called to declare judgment on God’s people. That’s how I used to see this towering biblical figure. Until I read through Jeremiah a couple of summers ago. I read him with one question in mind “What can I learn from this great man about godly leadership?”

One aspect of his ministry that I had never appreciated before was that he was not only declaring what was ahead, he was attempting to prepare God’s people for what was ahead.

Jeremiah could see the future, and he was doggedly trying to impress that upon God’s people so that they would be ready for the shockwaves that were going to hit the nation. Perhaps one of the best known chapters in Jeremiah illustrates his purpose. Jeremiah 29 is all about going into exile and how the people are to respond to that new reality. And the famous words of verse 11 – “For I know the plans I have for you…” are reassurance that God will be with His people in a world that is totally alien to them and in circumstances that seem to undermine completely His faithfulness and their security.

Tragically, the people of Judah never did get it. They stumbled from one crisis to another.

Having a sense of what the future looks like and trying to prepare for it can often result in tension. People around you might not “get it”. Whether you’re building a life, a home, a business or a church, once you start to prepare for a different kind of future, you begin to change things. And once you begin to change things you might well create tension.

If you find yourself under pressure because you are trying to implement godly values, or you are trying to respond to what you believe God is saying about your future, and no-one seems to get it, you’re in good company. Like Jeremiah, let the future you see shape your today rather than letting your past or present shape your tomorrow.


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