Asia Garden makes excellent Mongolian beef. I should know after 20 years of eating at this restaurant. When the check is presented it is accompanied by a fortune cookie. I like the taste of them and…I always read the fortune. The latest said “Any troubles you may have will pass very shortly.” Actually most of the little troubles of life do pass very shortly. The big ones don’t.
What if the fortune cookie really worked? What if before any major decision, we could check with the fortune cookie. “It would be foolish to quit your job.” or “You will regret marrying that man/woman.” Families would have big bags of fortune cookies in the pantry for consultation. According to the all wise and knowing internet, the most common fortune found in a cookie is “you will find a bushel of money.” If only…
Why is the future so fascinating? The major appeal of the Book of Revelation is the focus on prophecy. No one reads it’s stories to their children. There are few songs based on it. To know the future, even on a broad scale is to raise the pulse rate to “Wow! That’s cool!” Learning our own personal future with dead certainty is invaluable (I am certain that people would pay a “fortune” for it. It is an inadvertent pun. Really!) Why do we want to know? It would improve our immediate decisions.
I would have bought Microsoft stock in the early years, bought more and held on to my Apple stock for longer, married the same woman but treated her better and avoided some very bad decisions that came my way. It would be nice to know how life would have been in a warmer climate which leads to another reason for wanting to know…what would have happened if I had gone a different way? If only we could live several different tracks of life to see which one we really liked? Just in case there were better options that would have changed everything.
On the other hand, God is not usually willing to share the future with us. There are some exceptions. God told Ananias what Paul’s destiny was in Acts 9
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (NASB)
“So, Paul, here’s the plan. You are going to minister all over the world which is terrific but, you will suffer, suffer and suffer some more along the way, accompanied by some pain.” There’s a fortune cookie you rarely find. “You will experience great suffering soon.” Throw that one back!
That is the problem with knowing the future. If there are unpleasant things ahead, we might not want to know. We only get one life so it means we must make careful decisions in this one. Regret, I think, is a great teacher. It serves to remind us which decisions were bad ones. Don’t compound those by doing them again. Ultimately, God uses this life to teach us two important things: Who He is and How He acts. From that information we can make good decisions and spend our lives doing the only things that matter which are to trust Him and serve others. He stays with us all the way because He is a great teacher.
Psalm 91:14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation. (NIV)
ps: My latest fortune cookie said that I should access my artistic side and use my excellent color sense. I think it was meant for someone else.