Living in the present tense
I spend a lot of time in the past and in the future. I think back on how things once were, and I look ahead in anticipation of what might eventually come. It’s hard work to dwell in the present.
I am often tempted to look at my “present” as being on a merry-go-round. Life can be so daily, round and round it goes, and the humdrum nature of the mundane lulls me into a daze. I walk around like I am only half-alive, simply going through the motions: driving to work, answering emails, shopping for groceries, eating, walking, sleeping. And then I wake up the next day and do it all over again – trudging on the treadmill of life.
It’s so much easier to dwell in the concrete, already-happened reality of the past, or to dream about the limitless possibilities of the future. When it comes to my thought life, I often adopt the mindset of “Anywhere But Here.”
But the present is the only time that we can experience God’s love. The present is the only time that we can forgive. The present is the only time that we can accept grace. We can remember God’s faithfulness in the past, and look forward to it in the future with great expectation, but this moment is all that we really have. It is all that we are really promised.
Today, I am thinking about things in my past – the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. I am tempted to allow these things to dictate my present state of mind – whether it is longing for the way that things once were, or harboring un-forgiveness for a time that I was wronged, or wishing to reverse some major regrets. But God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). I want to open my eyes to the new thing – the now.
I am also thinking about things in my future – the hopes and dreams, as well as the fears. It’s tempting to immerse myself in the unknown, and spend up all of my energy attempting to anticipate things that I really have no control over. I want to figure out what my future holds, and then plan for it – emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially. I want to have it all mapped out, so I won’t be thrown for a loop. But Jesus says, “Don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34). I want to take the energy that I have been spending on worrying and planning, and devote it to living fully in this present moment.
The present is not a waste of time. The present – this moment, what I am doing today, my tasks and activities and relationships and interactions – hold huge, miraculous meaning. And I want to start living like it.