When I took the job that I now have, I agreed to relocate my family to another country ten months later. At the time, it looked like a good decision. Kids could finish school, wife could finish her year of work at another school, housing market might improve, I’d get to know the new company and the new boss… Seemed like a perfect arrangement.
But I’ve come to realize that the decision to postpone a major change comes with side-effects. Knowing that you are leaving in ten months does something to your brain. You begin to dis-en-gage. You don’t want to start any new relationships, because that just makes leaving more painful. If you get angry at a friend, oh well! That relationship was going to end soon anyway. The projects that you were planning on completing (the ones that don’t involve getting the house ready to sell) – why bother?
Ten months is a long time, and you can neglect a lot of people and things before it comes around. I think disengagement is a self-defense mechanism, designed to help you deal with painful transitions, but it can really work against you. By the time you leave, no one likes you anymore. (And you’re pretty much done with them, too.)
Maybe that’s why God doesn’t tell us what He’s doing in advance very often. Maybe it’s easier on us if we don’t know. I don’t think Abraham had much notice when he was told to “go into a land which I will show you.” Moses was surprised by the burning bush. Gideon had to get his spiritual truths in bite-size amounts. Ruth wasn’t told that she would one day marry the man who owned the field she gleaned in, and it would have blown her mind to have known that she was to be the great-great-great-great… grandmother of Jesus!
Look what foreknowledge did to Joseph. He had a few prophetic dreams and became a jerk to his brothers, who retaliated by selling him into slavery. Or consider Peter, who went from “blessed are you…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” to “get behind me, Satan” in just a few short paragraphs.
Knowing what’s coming is tough. It can make you a jerk like Joseph or give you the big head like Peter. It can also make living in the now unbearable, because all you want to do is think about the then.
God knows all this. I think it’s why He doesn’t give us too many details about heaven. How hard do you think sticking around was on John or Paul after they had seen/been to the heavenly realms? Kudos to them for continuing to fight the good fight, but I bet by the time Paul met Nero, he was ready to pack it in.
God wants us living for heaven but living in today. He wants us to be engaged with the people and events in our present. Otherwise, it would be no problem for Him to make tomorrow today. He could fast-forward us to the good parts, but He doesn’t, and I think we can assume that He doesn’t because He has something for us to learn, to do, to experience. He has someone He wants us to meet or to help or to love.
And what’s our rush anyway? If we spend too much time focused on what tomorrow brings, we might miss the event or the relationship in the present that was designed to take us there.