An individual’s event horizon is one’s ability to set future goals. The further one’s event horizon extends, the more likely that person will experience success. Conversely, those whose event horizons are short sighted tend to live day to day, with no real tangible goals for the future.
Monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain have event horizons that extend well past their lifetimes. After all, her family has been on the throne for more than 500 years. Other wealthy people such as Bill Gates also have far-reaching event horizons that involve charitable institutions and corporate entities that will continue long after their founders have died.
There tends to be a direct correlation between one’s economic standing and their event horizon. Those hailing from the middle class usually plan for retirement, college for their children, and even possibly establishing trust funds for their grandchildren. Those hailing from low socio-economic groups struggle to survive month to month, week to week, and sometimes day to day. As a result, their event horizons are truly short-sighted. Long range goals aren’t even on their radars. Many times their children grow up with limited event horizons as well, and often find themselves repeating the cycle of poverty. This is a major area of concern for educators who work in at-risk schools.
How does this apply to us as Christians? While the term event horizon is used to describe how people approach goal setting in a social-economic setting, we as Christians also have event horizons. How far does our faith allow us to set goals in our spiritual and temporal lives? And more importantly, what example can we gain from Jesus’ event horizon, especially in the context of our Lenten journey?
The Gospels present Jesus as being steadfast as he journeyed to Jerusalem and Calvary. Nothing would keep him from fulfilling God’s will for his life. He was obedient unto death – a perfect sacrifice offered for our sins. Our Lord reminds us that we, too, are called to take up our cross and walk with him. As Christians, our event horizon takes us to Calvary as well, a place where we lay down our lives and submit ourselves to God’s perfect will for our lives. For some Christians, especially in our capitalistic materialistic American society, their event horizon is limited by the heresy that prosperity is measured by material wealth, rather than spiritual blessings. While God may bless us materially, scripture is clear that material possessions are not in themselves a sign of God’s approval.
Our journey doesn’t end at Calvary. Our Lord’s event horizon projected well past his death. It went beyond even his resurrection and ascension. His event horizon stretches forward into eternity, and it challenges us to extend our own horizons past our current circumstances as well. St. Paul wrote that he considered that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18 NIV). Paul, like Jesus, had an event horizon that transcended this temporal world and enabled him to see God’s glory that was destined to be revealed both in this life, and the life to come.
No matter what circumstances we find ourselves during our Lenten journey, we can be confident in God’s perfect plan for our lives. We are challenged, both individuality and corporately, to extend our event horizon and exercise our spiritual muscles. Let us break old paradigms and challenge ourselves to become daring for the Kingdom of God, looking beyond our short-sighted horizons. May the Lord bless you with event horizons that carry you to faraway places, and may his glory be revealed in you.
Fr. Timothy Warren, a retired Air Force reservist and veteran educator, is the founding pastor of St. Francis (Independent Old Catholic Church), an outreach ministry located in Victorville, Calif. He is also President and Executive Officer for LifeSkills Development, a nonprofit organization that works with at-risk young adults, those on probation, and other marginalized groups. Fr. Tim serves on the High Desert Interfaith Council in Victorville. He lives in San Bernardino.