Faith

Now is the time to be present

Darius Leow // July 12, 2017, 5:53 pm

Past Future

“Wherever you are, be all there.”
Jim Elliot

I listen to music that takes me back to the past. I look at photos taken way back, longing to return to what we always call the good ol’ days. I watch movies that bring me down memory lane.

I like to return to the past, hang around a little, rummaging through old boxes of memories pleasant and unpleasant, to relearn lessons only retrospection can teach.

While these might make me feel nostalgic and perhaps even euphoric at that moment, I find that dwelling too much on the past – however pleasant it might be – holds me back from the present. I don’t get to fully live in the present, because I’m distracted by the past.

God made it clear: Today’s manna is for today, not for yesterday or tomorrow. Yesterday’s manna is too stale for present needs, and today’s manna will grow stale by tomorrow.

I zoom into the future and bask in the excitement of what is to come – but in the process also find myself anxious over its lingering uncertainties.

And often I find myself being forced back to reality, because the present always knocks on the door of my heart and reminds me, You belong here.

I know it’s no point living in the past: Why dwell on what cannot be undone? The same goes with the future: Why dwell so much on something that hasn’t taken place?

But so easily we find ourselves stuck in the present; hemmed in by past memories and experiences, and uncertainty and expectations of what the future holds. Where do we go from here?

Do you, like me, find yourself being trapped in this constant loop, this “time-travelling” discontentment? It seems like a deep-seated human condition, because millennia ago, the Israelites also felt the same way. Out there in the wilderness, having witnessed God’s deliverance out of slavery, they crumbled when their enemies approached, and grumbled when their stomachs rumbled.

“The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.'” (Exodus 16:3)

It almost sounds like the Israelites were fondly reminiscing about the good ol’ days. But they’d forgotten how they hadn’t really been enjoying pots of meat then. Instead, they’d been groaning and crying out in their slavery (Exodus 2:23).

It’s easy to laugh at them, and judge them for their lack of faith and discontentment. I mean, they lived through the 10 plagues! They walked on the sea bed of the parted Red Sea!

But so many times we find ourselves just like them. We moan over our present, look to the past with false fondness, and in comparison find our present even more dissatisfying. It’s a vicious cycle; the past will never fully satisfy the present, even if we once lived through mountaintop experiences or the good ol’ days.

Present needs must be satisfied by present means.

I guess that’s why God’s manna provision plan is always in the present. In Exodus 16:19-20, the Israelites found that the manna supernaturally produced each morning would not last till the next day.

God made it clear: Today’s manna is for today, not for yesterday or tomorrow. Yesterday’s manna is too stale for present needs, and today’s manna will grow stale by tomorrow.

Essentially, you need present joy. Present peace. Present strength. Present grace. Present _______. Yesterday’s will not suffice, because God meant for us to come daily before Him for our sustenance.

A day at a time. Embrace the present one day at a time, because in the present you will find all you need. Not too much, not too little – just enough (Exodus 16:17-18).

You need present joy. Present peace. Present strength. Present grace. Present _______. Yesterday’s will not suffice, because God meant for us to come daily before Him for our sustenance.

For 40 years, every day, the Israelites ate manna. For 40 years, they learnt what it means to live in the present. We learn to trust God one day at a time, and embrace this life we have been given. Because Christ is present in every day, I will find all I need to satisfy my present needs each day.

So learn to bid seasons of life goodbye; to time travel a little bit less. Occasionally say hi to them, thanking them for the lessons they’ve taught me, and move on. The past and future are good teachers; they have bearing and implications on the present.

But after you’ve done that, come back to the present. Be fully present, because your present needs you.