June 29, 2018

Learning to Live in the Present

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”  Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB) 

Worrying about your past won’t change it any more than worrying about the future will control it. It just messes you up in the present. Worry causes a paralysis of analysis! It forfeits us from living life in the now! Because God is not limited by time and space, He is already in our future as well as our present, and He says,

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27 NIV)

Look at Israel for an example. When Jeremiah wrote them a prophetic letter, he was letting them in on what God had planned for their future. They were living in exile in the foreign land of Babylon, their enemy. The future didn’t look good. Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed. False prophets were sending mixed messages that this was the end of their nation, while others suggested things would turn around soon and that they would go home. They were stuck and didn’t know what to do or who to believe. In his letter, Jeremiah gives them – and us – wise insight on living in the now. He said, 

“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.’” Jeremiah 29:4-6 (NIV) 

God’s message to His people was that they would be there for some time. It would be a time of discipline and would last for 70 years. But it wasn’t the end. God was saying, “Don’t let your fears about the future keep you from living in the present.” What about you? Fear and worry about the future can’t control it. This is where trust comes into play. We trust the God who is already in our future so we can live in the now with peace and confidence. The problem with Israel is that they wanted their way in their time, not God’s way in His time. We often want the same. As a result, we fail to enjoy the moment. All we have is now. Just as Jeremiah said to Israel, Jesus told us that there would be trouble and sorrow in this world. This isn’t Heaven. But, He didn’t tell us this to instill fear. In fact, He said,

“Let not your heart be troubled.” John 14:1a (NKJV)

In other words, don’t be surprised when troubles come, and don’t be alarmed by them.  Put your trust today in God, and don’t let fears about the future keep you from living in the present. I love the way the Living Bible paraphrases Christ’s words in Matt. 6:34, 

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matt. 6:34 LB)