Many years ago, during a job interview at an insurance agency in Worland Wyoming, I was asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"
The inquiry was met with a blank stare.
I've never been one to set goals, so I had no satisfactory answer to offer that day and left the interview in the same condition I had arrived in -- unemployed. Maybe the question is of particular importance to those in the insurance game.
Admittedly, I was considerably younger and considerably more naive back then, but I'm not the least bit certain I could answer the same question any better today than I did (or didn't) back then.
Tomorrow seems to be a bit beyond me.
If I've learned anything throughout the days of my life, it's that none of us can know what any day holds. No one was more surprised than Danny and me when Ben arrived four weeks early in 1975. We also were stunned years later when he gifted himself with a vacation trip to our house in 2007 in time for his 32nd birthday. Both happy surprises.
Back in January of 1973, I knew Danny would be coming home from basic training -- someday. The Navy, for all of its wisdom and efficiency, couldn't seem to provide the precise departure information. Since I didn't know the day nor the hour, it was the Navy's fault that I had curlers in my hair when Danny finally showed up. Once I tugged the curlers out and finger-combed the still damp mop on my head, it turned out to be a happy surprise indeed.
Anyone with even a few years of living behind them knows that not all surprises are happy ones.
The nearly 3,000 who left us on September 11, 2001, had no plans to depart that day. Their agendas contained the common, ordinary day-to-day chores: Go to work, go to the dentist, have lunch with the girls, stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick up a gallon of milk.
My mom knew her time here was limited, but even in her extremity, she didn't know the precise day and hour of her departure.
Was she any more prepared than those who left so suddenly when the towers fell?
We buy calendars with 365 blank pages waiting to be filled. Our checkbook registers have room for hundreds of checks, waiting to be written. We program the DVR to catch programs we know we'll otherwise miss next week. Even the lottery has gotten into tomorrows to come, offering tickets that span weeks worth of drawings, saving the hopeful the inconvenience of dropping by the convenience store the night before the next draw.
It's the cultural norm. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Time to go back to school, tomorrow. Time to call Mom just to say "I love you," tomorrow. Time to mend long-broken fences, tomorrow. Time to deal with eternity, tomorrow... tomorrow... tomorrow.
Scholars say that there were 700-plus years between Isaiah's prophecies concerning the coming of the Son of God and his birth in Bethlehem. I may disremember the precise number, but during his short time in the flesh, Jesus fulfilled more than 600 prophecies that had been spoken about him hundreds of years before he came to earth.
I dare say, through the course of those generations that waited for the promise, through the long years of study by the Jewish leaders, through the long, silent years when Israel had no word from God -- many theories about the coming Messiah and those many seemingly unconnected prophecies, flourished.
History teaches us that some believed themselves to be the Messiah, including Simon of Peraea, a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled and was killed by the Romans.
None, before the coming of Jesus, or the myriad that have come to Israel after him, have fulfilled the resurrection prophecy as Jesus did when the stone rolled from the grave on the morning of the third day.
No matter the number of theories that arose during those long generations, they would likely pale in comparison to the number of theories that have sprung up in these latter days about the end of days and the imminent return of the Lord.
Another deadline looms Saturday and everyone is abuzz with it. I first became aware of this prophecy last year and wrote about it June 23, 2010. Harold Camping, through Outreach U.S.A., has been warning any who would listen that the rapture will occur Saturday, May 21 and the world will end Oct. 21, 2011, after months of "living hell on earth" for those "left behind."
Scripture teaches us how to discern between true prophets and false prophets all the way back in Deuteronomy 18:22 "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."
Camping's first end-times prophecy was set for 1994. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not he has rightly named the date, this time, always mindful that although we are given signs to watch out for, "no one knows the day or the hour."
As to tomorrow? I make no prediction. If it is a typical Wednesday, without surprises, I will be at my desk here at the McCook Daily Gazette at the appointed hour. I'll trek out to KNGN to record more "Dawn of New Day" sessions in the afternoon, mow the lawn if it isn't raining or too windy, and at day's end will offer a prayer patterned largely after the one I learned as a child, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
My life and my times are in his hand. Today. And that is more than enough, sufficient even unto the day and hour of my departure, whenever it comes.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Dawn of a New Day now airs Monday through Friday at KNGN 1360 AM or online at kngn.org, immediately following SRN news at 1 p.m.
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.