The mystery of the future is one of the captivating elements in the mind of a young person as he or she imagines life ahead. Children come to wonder about their personal futures. A young boy may declare that when he grows up, he wants to fly jet aircraft. One of my own sons wanted to operate heavy earth moving equipment. My granddaughter wants to be a princess. As it so often happens, the desires of youth shift to different goals as the youngster becomes more familiar with his or her talents and skills. But, one thing usually remains the same—concerns about the future. A young person will want to know about his or her personal future.
The future in many societies holds a great deal of promise for young people. Many are familiar with high school or university commencement ceremonies, where a speaker may tell the audience that their future is what they individually and collectively make of it—or that if they work hard and listen to their hearts in striving for a worthwhile personal goal, they will achieve it. Some cultures may place the future and reputation of an entire family on the shoulders of a young person who gets a great chance at success or education. Yes, the future holds many possibilities.
Despite all of the possibilities one’s future may hold, how many people, having grown into adulthood, feel a sense that something is missing—that their future did not wind up as they had hoped?
Long ago, a young man’s career path was essentially predetermined by inheritance. He had the best personal tutoring and nearly unlimited resources for travel and experience. His future was virtually set. As he grew and assumed control of his nation, his reputation as a thoughtful and practical leader dramatically increased. That man was King Solomon of ancient Israel. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was in all the surrounding nations… And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:29–34). Did Solomon have a reputation as a “Mister Know It All”?
King Solomon could carry out any project he chose to do, yet something was missing in his life. Young people want to be successful, happy, and fulfilled—but like Solomon, they find out they really don’t know the way. Material pursuits attractive when one is young become uninteresting or hollow over time. “So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:9–11).
There is more to life than money or material pursuits, though a person normally has to go through life’s stages to find that out. A young person should plan as best he or she can for the future—to support a future family and to develop interests and hobbies. But regardless of whether we’re young or old, what we have materially can never compensate for what’s missing in our lives.
One wiser than Solomon tells us: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.… Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (Luke 12:15, 23).
The God who spoke those words has commissioned His Church to teach a way of life that transcends material abundance. It is a life that will be exciting and fulfilling. You may find out more about that life and that Church by ordering or reading the booklets God’s Church Through The Ages and Where is God’s True Church Today?