The streets were muddy; a stream of water rushed to my left and trash heaps littered every corner. Children played in the water that I didn’t even let get near my shoes and sorted through the piles of trash. I stared in awe, my childhood rushing back to me like waves of warm water. Memories of forts, tree houses, trampolines, lunch box notes, vacations, Christmas’s full of Santa clause, and then I look around again. I bet these kids didn’t even have lunch boxes, much less notes from doting mothers to perk up their hard days. Guilt and angst and a million other emotions were filling my heart to the brim, how can I be on the same planet as I was on yesterday? Nuzzled in my American dream how could I have complained about my car, my clothes, and Lord knows how many other useless things when this was going on a few plane rides away.
I looked at my fellow trip mates and I knew they felt it too, the power of the African slum, it could drain the believing right out of you while simultaneously showing you more about God than you ever knew.
The guide was talking while we walked explaining life in this place, a life of murder, stealing, and the likelihood that you would never leave this place. These kids, covered in dirty water and sifting through trash would probably never see anywhere better this side of earth and I muttered “God save them” with nothing more in my head than a heaven filled with children who once made their playground amongst the trash.
Our guide tells us that in the slums there is no word for future, he said life was lived on such an everyday basis they needed no word for future because they saw none. Something inside of me ached, a life without hope.
So here I sit 6 years later and this memory comes flooding back because of something my pastor said on Sunday, “We are living in a generation of hopelessness” and it clicked, we have taken the future out of it, we have created life that is lived on an everyday basis and when the future gets forgotten the hope gets lost.
See you and I we were made to ache for more, to burn with a passion for something further down the road and culture is squeezing that out of you. You are being told, and I am being told, that tomorrow doesn’t matter just live for today. So we live for today, we spend for today, we party for today, and we believe the lie that this is all that we have, and we ache.
This is not how you were created.
Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put enternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
I tried to find a part of the bible where God said to live in the moment, don’t worry what consequences face you, but God and Katy Perry think very differently about how your life should look.
Because we were made with a future in mind, if Satan can take the future out of your life he can convince you that digging through a pile of trash is the best you can do. That’s what we are all doing apart from God, standing in a pile of trash looking for the treasure, but its all trash to start with.
The guy… he left. The party…. It ended. The high… it faded. The best friend you’d do anything for… found someone she liked better. The sport that gave you so much affirmation…. Its over.
But we keep grabbing, looking for treasure among the trash of this world in hopes that it might fill the desperate void that is screaming at you. As someone who has found her fair share of “treasure” among the trash let me assure you it won’t satisfy, it won’t give you a future, and it can’t save your life.
The thing about Africa that I realized in my short time there was that Africa knew it needed Jesus, they knew they were living in rubble, they knew that all they had meant nothing but you and I we have a hard time seeing that. We have prettier things, nicer trash, if you will, and we can fill the void with enough of today to forget about eternity. But in my gut, when I put the phone down, when I shut social media off, sometimes I feel the hopelessness. I can see it when I walk through the grocery store, go shopping at H&M or I read the news. I can see that we are trying to fill each day with enough so that we don’t have to think about tomorrow.
So where do the hopeless go when our future has been taken and our lives look dark? Well the way I see it (since you asked) is we have two choices. We can fumble around this world making the best of today and forgetting about tomorrow or we can run to God and believe he has paved a way for our futures to look vastly different.
I often think where I would be if God hadn’t reached into my pit of a life at 19 and put me on solid ground and I know because there isn’t too many places I could have ended up. I would still be drinking, I would still be dabbling in drugs, I would still be trying to make much of myself to fill the void, I would have been in a string of relationships that left my already battered heart in even worse shape and I would be hopeless because who can give you a future outside of God?