FAST-FORWARD: Looking ahead in faith

“God is even kinder than you think.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux

[music of the soul series]

We know from post #2 [PLAY] that life is only lived in the present moment—and that we rob the present when we get hung up in either the past or the future. However, once we learn the art of being grounded in the now, then we can intentionally and periodically engage both the past and the future with spiritual benefit.

When Jesus came face-to-face with a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, his question was surprisingly profound: “What do you want?” (Mark 10:51) In view of a most obvious need, the question could have been offensive. Instead, it spoke this man’s deepest desire.

Every coaching conversation begins with some version of that same question: What do you want? There is something holy about the Source of our deep-hearted desires—and something holy about drawing them out and naming them! Proverbs reminds us that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Was it hard for Bartimaeus to name his deep desire? I don’t know. Clearly, he had heard the most outrageous claims about the wonders surrounding this new Rabbi…but hope is a dangerous thing (as we just saw in Proverbs). To speak that desire means risking grave disappointment if reality doesn’t match the hype. But Bartimaeus found a deep courage—an unsighted vision, if you will. Jesus called it “faith,” a healing faith that released his vision into the realm of the seen.



The act of looking ahead and describing a desired future is a creative act. It echoes the original Creative Act and affirms our role as co-creators in this world. In short, looking ahead in faith is a spiritual practice. Let’s explore a few ways we can make space for “Fast-Forwarding” practically.

  • Consolation. I’ve said before that the most fundamental spiritual practice of all is paying attention—to God and to your life. Or to God in your life. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the impact of evaluating our experience through the lens of “consolation and desolation,” that which renews and drains the soul. This practice (which shows up in the Daily Examen) not only invites us to look back…but to also look ahead with a view toward making more space for that which is consoling and life-giving.
  • Visioneering. This word is different, in my mind at least, from the more common term of strategic planning. Visioneering involves a holy dreaming—an engagement of the imagination with a potent sense of possibility that gives rise to a God-sized vision. Could be a vision for your marriage or family, for your work or ministry, for the next season in your life or whatever. But it is a faith-vision that then leads to co-creation and eventually to fulfillment. Visioneering can be done solo or in community, but it thrives in an intentionally creative space like a retreat.
  • Community. Even though we may do some holy dreaming alone, vision is meant to be confirmed by and carried in community. God-sized visions are too large to be carried effectively alone. Other trusted, Godward souls are meant to speak into our faith-future, imparting wise counsel and courageous camaraderie. Who listens to your deepest desires? Who speaks into them? Who won’t let you quit when you’re weary? Who owns your future with you?

Looking ahead is risky business, but it’s the right business. Remember, we can only live life in the present moment—but when we live the now in the light of our faith for the future, we are fueled for the journey with a pervasive hope. “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).

So, how do you look ahead with faith?

Posted on March 30, 2015 .