When I was about 7, I watched Saved by the Bell with my older sister. The 90s sitcom made adolescence seem like so much fun. And the teenage characters looked like the coolest people I could meet. At the time, I didn’t realize the show wasn’t the most accurate portrayal of high school.
I spent a lot of my time as a child wanting to be a teenager. For me, the next phase of life represented a place where I would be able to experience more fun and joy.
Then I became a teenager. Those years weren’t miserable. But I didn’t go to Bayside either.
I spent most of my time thinking about how happy I would be when I finally got to college. College is where I would be happy. That’s what all my teachers had told me to strive for. If I could just get into college, I would be satisfied I had accomplished something.
And my college experience was fun, and very fulfilling. I went to a Christian college, and lived in a dorm. So, besides the homework and classes, it was like being at a Christian summer camp all the time. But eventually, I began to get tired of the classrooms and homework. I didn’t want to get ready for the rest of my life. I wanted the rest of my life to start. Life would be so much easier when I was a real adult in the real world—making money. That’s what I thought. Despite what some older, wiser people told me.
I graduated in May 2011—about two years ago. I still fall into the same pattern where I look forward to some future goal—something not yet obtained—for satisfaction. I believe people have a natural tendency to look forward instead of being content with where we are. I think this can be good and bad.
It is bad because we end up wishing our lives away—looking for happiness in the future and never finding it in the present. “I’ll just be happy when I’m married.” Or “I’ll just be happy when I retire.”
The tendency can also be good when directed in a positive way. Jesus promises his followers he is coming back. This is the hope Christians cling to when we endure hardships in this world we believe to be only temporary. We join Abraham in “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). We look forward to Christ’s second coming, trusting in the very real, ultimate fulfillment he will bring to the people who have trusted him. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21). The Bible says all of creation shares Christians’ anticipation of Jesus’ second coming (Romans 8:18-25). This is because creation is currently suffering from the effects of sin. When Christ comes back, he will restore creation, and all those who have believed his gospel. This is a future worth looking forward to. However, this hope is limited to those who trust Jesus now. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)