Okay, I’ll admit it up front. If you clicked the link looking for a Back to the Future fan fiction where Marty McFly and Doc Brown encounter an interdimensional version of the despicable Biff Tannen, you may be slightly disappointed. However, before all you sci-fi fans and 80’s movie buffs click away to read an article containing the top seven reasons Hollywood is so over your favorite child actor of yesteryear, I would like to address something about our beloved hero from the fictional town of Hill Valley, California, Marty McFly.
For those who are unaware, Marty McFly is the protagonist of the hit 1985 film Back to the Future. The basic plot of the movie is that Marty finds himself transported back thirty years to 1955 in a time machine (made out of a DeLorean!), where he is tasked with influencing his high school-aged parents to fall in love in order to ensure his existence, and figure out a way to get back to 1985. In the two subsequent films, Marty finds himself in similar predicaments where he is in a race against time to get back to the future (see what I did there?) or face his demise.
Throughout the film series, despite his frequent time travel, Marty still finds it difficult to think fourth-dimensionally, that is, with regard to time. For example, in the third film, Marty, stranded in the Old West, needs to drive the time machine toward an incomplete bridge which overlooks a ravine in order to return to his correct place in history. After objecting that driving over the partial bridge would cause him to plummet to his doom, Marty is admonished by Doc, who tells him, “You’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally!” Doc explains that although the bridge is not yet finished in 1885, they will be able to safely coast across the ravine on the completed bridge upon their arrival in 1985.
Even though Marty knew about the completed bridge in his destination time, he could not seem to look past his present circumstance and threat to his well-being. Just like Marty, sometimes we have trouble thinking fourth-dimensionally. It is often difficult to look past our current circumstances. Sometimes we become anxious about paying our bills, our current job situation (or lack thereof), how much is in our savings account, or how much we’re able to put in our 401k.
While taking care of our responsibilities and being good stewards of our resources is necessary, there is a difference between being a responsible human being and worrying unnecessarily about things over which we have no control. Our minds tend to play this trick on us: I need stuff (food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc.) to live; I need money to buy stuff; therefore, money, and my ability to obtain it provides for my needs. However, those of you who have been through dire circumstances know, it only takes one event, and all of that money and preparation can be gone in the blink of an eye. We have trouble thinking fourth dimensionally, and we don’t realize it. We are predisposed to assume that life will continue on its current trajectory. We will continue to accumulate stuff and look to our experience and education to give us higher earning potential and provide for our ever-growing list of needs and “needs.” While, in reality, we have no idea what events we will face in the future, or how they will affect our pocketbooks. As a result, there is a possibility that the finances we looked to as our provider will have disappeared. Our natural inclination would be to try to feverishly accumulate more in the name of responsibility, in order to protect against any potential threats to our wellbeing. After all, we must protect ourselves and our family financially, at all cost. It’s the responsible thing to do, right?
Jesus talks at length about this very subject in Matthew 6:19-34 (NLT):
19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 "Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
25 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 "And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and he will give you everything you need.
34 "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
Although we can look at money as a means by which God provides for our needs, it is vital for us to realize that it is not the money itself, our job, or even our own abilities that provide for our needs. In this passage, Jesus identifies God as our provider and makes it clear that it is impossible to serve God and look to our finances as our provider. Just like Marty was afraid at the thought of driving the time machine over the unfinished bridge, we panic at the thought of the unknown and tend to put our faith in our finances for security because it is what we can see and understand right now. But, just as Doc assured Marty that he would be safe driving across the bridge, God assures His provision of the needs of his people when they seek His will for their lives above all else. He is the Lord of the fourth dimension (time) and knows not only our present situation, but He also knows what circumstances we will face in the future. Even though God’s provision may not always come in the form we think it should, if we learn to put our full faith in Him and align our will for our lives with His will for our lives, the outcome will be more fulfilling than we could possibly imagine.
Your friend in time,