686) Advice for the Future

After Taylor died, her parents began sorting through her things. And that's when they found a letter she had written to her future self.

If only we could go back in time and share some wisdom with our younger selves.  Today’s meditation is about one little girl who wrote some advice to her older self to be read ten years in the future.

     On April 13, 2013 twelve-year old Taylor Scout Smith wrote herself a letter– her ‘future’ self.  She put the letter in an envelope, wrote on it in big letters CONFIDENTIAL, along with a note that it is not to be opened by anyone but her, and not until April 13, 2023 when she would be twenty-two years old.  She then sealed it with tape and hid it in her room.

     In January of the following year, Taylor’s parents found the letter when they were going through her room.  They opened it and read it; and then began to show it to others.  They were not snooping, and they were not disrespecting her privacy.  Taylor would not be able to open the letter in 2023 because she had died a few weeks earlier on January 5, 2014, quite suddenly, of complications from pneumonia.  She had written that the letter was for her eyes only, “unless said otherwise,” as she put it.  Her parents took that as permission to open it, and sharing it with others is helping them work through their grief.

     Some of the letter is cute, even a little silly, which is what you would expect from a twelve-year old.  She wonders if her future self has been to Dollywood lately, and if Dr. Who is still on television.

     Taylor then reminds her future self that the day the letter is to be opened is her little sister’s birthday– one year old in 2013, so she will be eleven in 2023.  Taylor also encourages herself to continue her education and get a college degree.

     So far, the letter is just interesting.  But then the tone turns more serious.  Taylor was a deeply spiritual girl, and, as one article described her, an ‘old soul,’ wise beyond her years.  And her early death lends a greater weight to the main message she wanted her future self to ponder.  She asked her twenty-two year old self:  “How’s your relationship with God?  Have you prayed, worshiped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord recently?  If not, get up and do so NOW!  I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it.  He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you!  A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong!  Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”

     I wonder why Taylor felt the need to include that word of spiritual admonition.  Perhaps at her church she saw what is seen in so many churches– twelve-year olds believing in Jesus and going to worship and enjoying the Christian fellowship of the congregation’s children’s programs; but twenty-two year olds who have long ago disappeared from the church and no longer believing in anything.  Perhaps she felt her older self might need some encouragement to keep the faith from a little girl still on fire for the Lord.

     Taylor’s letter ends with an eerie reminder of the uncertainty of life:  “Remember,” she wrote, “it’s been ten years since I wrote this.  Stuff has happened good and bad.  That’s how life works, and you have to go with it.”

     In the words of an old saying, “The old will die; the young may die.”  We must not let the cares and craziness of life blind us to what really matters, now and for all eternity.  Thank God that He gave us such an important reminder in the words of a faithful little girl who had her eyes on the future.

Taylor Smith, a 12-year-old girl from Tennessee, died last week of complications from pneumonia.

Taylor Scout Smith  (2001-2014)


Psalm 39:4-5  —  Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.  You have made my days a mere hand-breadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

James 4:13-15  —  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Psalm 90:12  —  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.

–Thomas Ken  (1637-1711)