That, in and of itself, is change enough. But, in addition to a new home and a new lifestyle, during this same time, we have been blessed with three additional grandsons, bringing the total to seven, all under the age of five.
On the other end of the spectrum, my wife’s parents, whom we care for, are in their late eighties approaching ninety. Little wonder then, that as my wife and I enter our sixties, both the past and the present have been much on my mind. Perhaps this is why a certain devotional I received earlier today really resonated with me.
Among the many such devotionals I receive digitally is one from an organization called “Lead Like Jesus”. Today’s edition, dated August 6, 2021 and titled “Back to the Present”, contained the following paragraph that really spoke to me…
“Some people are prone to dwell in the past, reflecting on and rehashing the successes and failures of earlier days. Some are forever dreaming of the future, reflecting on and rehearsing how it will be someday soon. To lead like Jesus involves learning from the past as God draws us into the future. Lessons from the past can enhance our vision, goals, strategies, and tactics. Seek God’s perspective on the past, present, and future, so that you can lead like Jesus today. Where do you need to respond to Jesus in faith by leading as He would today?”
Granted, the specific context of this devotional, written primarily for Pastors, is leadership in Jesus’ name among Jesus’ followers. But the principle it stresses is nonetheless applicable to all aspects of life for a follower of Christ.
Naturally, having reached semi-retirement, I regularly spend time these days reflecting on the past and its impact on my life, including my upbringing, my formative years, my education, my career, my faith, and the friends and family members who supported me in and through all of these stages. While everyone has some regrets, I can honestly say that my reflections have brought me far more moments of joy than sadness. But I do not want to become mired in the past.
In so many ways, this is all the more reason why I am thankful for my children and grandchildren. Their optimistic joy about the future helps to temper many a sad reflection about the past. And their ever present stress on the future and what it promises helps to keep me from spending too much time looking over my shoulder.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I have come to learn in the last year and a half is the importance of living in the now. The past, it has well been said, is a great place to visit, but certainly no place to dwell. If we choose to linger too long in that time and place, we run the very real risk of being held prisoner and eventually becoming entombed there.
By contrast, the future certainly holds promise. But always living there can have its dangers as well. This is especially true if we choose to dwell on what Denis Waitley once called “Someday Isle”, as in “Someday, I’ll do this or I’ll do that; someday, I’ll go here or I’ll go there; someday I’ll become this or I’ll become that; etc...” Be careful, for as Credence Clearwater Revival sang back in the day, there is a distinct possibility that “Someday Never Comes”! And to quote another oldie (this time from the Grass Roots), “They can't promise tomorrow, so let's live for today!”
After all, surely that is one of the important keys to life. Living in either extreme, past or future, for too long is clearly detrimental to our personal well-being. Therefore, the best way to avoid the ill effects of either extreme is to make a concerted effort to live here and now in the present.
Perhaps this is at least part of what the Apostle Paul had in mind (in Ephesians 5:16) when he was led to admonish us to “redeem the time”. We cannot change the past any more than we can control the future. But what we can do is to make the most of the present. Given the brevity of life and the fleetness of time, surely it behooves us, in the words of the Contemporary English Version translation of Ephesians 5:16, to “make every minute count”.
I am personally very thankful for all the wonderful memories I have of my yesterdays. And I am excited about the many dreams I still hold for my coming days. But ultimately, neither matter as much as does this very day! I intend, therefore, to make the utmost of it!
So, my friends, join me. Together, let's heed the admonition of Scripture and redeem the time. Let's do this by making the most of every God given moment in life. After all, each day is a gift from God that, once lived, can never be repeated. Each moment is an opportunity that, once squandered, can never be regained.
I leave you with the words of Denis Waitley, who always finished his famous poem with a simple, yet powerful challenge: “From this day forward, make it your vow, take ‘Someday I’ll’, and make it your now!”