Are you stuck worrying about what you said or did yesterday? Are you worried about tomorrow? Well, good company joins you. Yet Jesus says in the Sermon of the Mount, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes…who by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25,27). God is telling us throughout Scripture to live in the present and the presence of God, not the world. People and problems distract us continually. Yet, God is saying seek Him and His peace in His presence in the present moment. This is the message of the largest selling devotional, Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence. God’s voice is speaking to you in the moment. We need to still ourselves like Elijah to hear His still small voice.
God is pretty firm about this teaching. In James 4 we read about going about life on our own schedule. “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 (vapor) 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. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:13-17). This is not saying to not go somewhere for business, it is saying, seek the Lord and follow His will, walk in His way continually. We do this through constant prayer as 1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us. We stay in touch with God in all things with thanksgiving and praise.
Live in the present. One of my favorite pastors said this morning that he wants to make the most of every opportunity so he has even stopped taking photos of events, because he wants to be totally in them. The Serenity Prayer tells us to be in and enjoy and live in every moment. Part of this discipline is to accept the moment and not wish it presented as something else. “It is what it is” as is commonly said today.
I think some of us have trouble with being in the moment because we are afraid or feel guilty or even are shamed in it. This is serious stuff, because many of us are overwhelmed by the past and our circumstances and injuries. We might have been abused, or betrayed. Guess what? We all have been injured. We need to give it to God. Forgive and be forgiven. Shame may require some counseling to address and redefine. We might wish it would change, but “wishful thinking” is not going to change or improve it. We must address and deal with it, perhaps with help.
I have started living in the present. It took more than 70 years to accomplish. I have missed much of life because of my fears of the past and future. I have even been a nationwide consultant on Future or long range planning. I know we need to plan, but don’t let it take you from the present. I wanted out of myself and my fears or life of walking on “egg shells” as so many that grew up in homes with dysfunction and alcoholics. My transformation has been slow, but has come by the presence of the Holy Spirit within me. He has guided and counseled me as I have put aside myself and sought Him. Writing this essay or message has helped me stay more present. I can always do Spellcheck later.