"Where do you see yourself in five years?" A common question asked by friends, family, at job interviews, and college applications. Last night I got into a discussion with a friend about God, life, relationships, guarding our hearts, and where exactly we'd like to see ourselves in five years time. I said I see myself married with a family and kids (although that's what I said five years ago), and working full time as a developer. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, because in reality I don't really care what career I have, as long as that career provides me with enough to provide for my family. A couple years back I got introduced to web development by my brother, realized it was a profitable career, and that it would allow me to work from home, and I actually enjoy it! Seemed perfect. But with all this talk of what my plans were and where I'd like to be, I realized later that this question is very self-centered, and focused merely on temporal things. My career choice is not going to have any bearing on eternity. My future marriage (although the fruits of it will be eternal), will not carry on into eternity. What of my relationship with God? What will that look like in five years? I believe a better answer to the 'five year' question is to be closer to Jesus and to be more sanctified. If your relationship with God looks the same now as it did five years ago, you're doing something wrong.
Having a five year plan isn't bad, don't get me wrong. There is wisdom in building, planning, and preparing for your future, but that shouldn't be our end goal. As americans, we have this 'american dream' mentality that has seeped into the church, where if a person has a spouse, kids and a big house, they are "blessed". Well Jesus had a different idea of what He considered blessed (Matthew 5:3-10), and in no way does our material possesions or position in life determine our standing or favor with God. Do I want all these things? Sure! But that is not what should occupy my mind, or my heart! God, Jesus, Him alone should be what occupies my heart and my desires for the future. Last night as my friend and I were talking, I realized I need to do better at guarding my heart. When I set my mind to something, I sometimes have a tendency to let that consume everything, cloud my vision, and in doing so I let my guard down. How can I be expected to to love my future spouse and guard her heart if I can't even guard my own? How can I be expected to lead and pastor my family and train up my children as Proverbs 22:6 states when God isn't placed where He ought in my life?
When I speak of 'guarding your heart', I am not strictly speaking in romantic terms, but I am also referring to anything that you allow your heart to be consumed by apart from Christ. It could be someone who is so focused on their career that it destroys their marriage and all other relationships. It could be an addiction, such as gambling, or yes, even a romantic relationship. All these things have their place (except for gambling, heh), but how we place them in our life is of utmost importance. God must be first and foremost. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33). This all may sound very elementary, but I have failed at this as of late. I have let my guard down and I must put God back on the throne.
It's not wrong to have desires, such as a spouse or a career. But I believe it's time I start differentiating "desires" from goals and necessities. So what is my five year plan? To love Jesus, and to be in love with Jesus more than I am now. To be closer to Him, to be more sanctified, to have new convictions towards sin, and to grow more in His grace. And if all that other stuff happens? Well that's just a bonus. And if it doesn't? It doesn't matter, because that's not my goal.