The two best places to waste your life!
Yesterday and tomorrow are terrible places to live. Sadly, too many of us continue to live our lives in one of those two places. We waste a lot of life in those places. I often wonder what would happen if there was a sign in our house that showed us in real time how much time we've wasted worrying about what we can't change or can't control? I think most of us would be surprised at the amount. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I read God telling me not to worry, I continue to worry. I know that truth in my head. But that's usually where it stays locked - in my head.
I wish I could go back and change some of the decisions I've made...
I wish I could go back and change some of the things I said to people...
I wish I could go back and avoid some of the places I've been...
I wish I could go back and choose to learn some of the painful lessons the first time around...
I wish I could go back and live fully in some of the moments that I wasted...
If I'm being completely honest, there's a lot I wish I could go back and change...
I wouldn't really call those things regrets; I think it's just part of being human. We all have em.
But I can't change the past...
...and neither can you.
I finally got to a place where I made a decision. I decided.
I decided to let my past (my successes and my failures) remind me and refine me, but I refuse to allow it to define me or paralyze me today. Far too many of us stay stuck because we're convinced God can't redeem the mess of our past. Sobering how weak we think God is. Lord, forgive us for trying to make you small. Forgive us for trying to make you tame.
It's not enough for us to want to change our past, we want to control our future. I wonder if the reason why many of us are so afraid of the future is that we're afraid it will look just like the past we can't change?
I'm a dreamer.
I have a lot of pictures in my mind of what I want my future to look like. Many of my prayers revolve around things I'm believing God for in my future. I want my life to count for something greater than me. If I'm not careful, I end up worrying about how I'll get from here to there. I worry that the right doors will never open. I worry that my life won't count for anything but mediocrity. I worry that I'm the only one that thinks like this... I worry that I've just said too much. I'm really a professional worrier.
So I trade my joy for anxiety... over and over again.
But I can't control tomorrow...
...and neither can you.
Think about the energy we waste chasing a past that we can never change? Think about the energy we waste running from a past that we're scared will repeat itself in our tomorrows? Think about the joy we waste today worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow? Think about the moments we waste today because they don't look like the moments we're dreaming of in our tomorrows.
We miss the beauty of the moment when we live like this. We were made for more than this.
I think about how many days I've wasted because I wasn't where I wanted to be. If I'm being honest, I don't struggle with God's sovereignty over my past, or even God's sovereignty over my future. I struggle with God's sovereignty over this day. It's hard for me to believe God has a purpose for this day, especially on days when I'm not doing what I believe God made me to do.While you may not be where you want to be today, don't miss the beauty of this day because you're so consumed with that day. God knows how to get us from point A to point Z, until then, let's don't miss the purpose of the points in between. This day matters on the way to that day. Until you arrive at that day, be fully alive in this day. Steward your time, talent, influence, and resources well today.
I have some very vivid childhood memories of my Mom teaching me about God by pointing to the birds. I remember Mom asking me "Do you know who made the birds? God did." Funny how all these years later God still uses those birds to remind about things I so quickly forget. I woke up to an abnormally cold morning here in Atlanta, GA. Windchills this morning were below zero. I got to my office this morning and found myself staring up into the tops of the trees because of a loud Cardinal. I wasn't thinking about how cold it was because my attention had been conquered by a loud bird who had something to say to me. Some of the best sermons I've ever heard haven't come from pulpits, they've come from the beaks of ordinary birds. Here's the truth God brought to my mind:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
So let me get this right: God's answer to the anxiety that robs us of our joy is to stare at the birds and the flowers?!? Maybe He knew something that therapists and psychologists have yet to figure out?
Let your future fuel your hopes and dreams, but refuse to allow an unknown future to rob today of it's joy and purpose. There's too much at stake today. God made you for more than worry.
So, what can you do to be fully alive and fully present in the moments of this day? How do you do it? How do we keep this day from becoming one of the many yesterdays that we wish we could go back and rewrite? How do we keep from missing today because we're worried about what may or may not happen tomorrow?
I think a lot of those answers are found in what we decide to say yes and no to.
Say yes to the joy of today.
Say no to the anxiety of an unknown tomorrow.
Say yes to the grace God has promised would be sufficient for this day.
Say no to selling your joy to your past which you can't change.
Say yes to resting in who God says you are today. Fully known. Fully loved. Accepted.
Say no to trying harder to be better.
Say yes to hope.
Say no to fear.
Say yes to being fully alive today.
Say yes to trusting that God knows where you are today. He knows your name today. He knows how to get you from here to there.
History may be written in the future, but it's made in the moments of today. What you do today says something about what you want your tomorrows to look like. The journey of a thousand tomorrows begins with the moments of today. God made you for more than just existing. He saved us for more than just being more religious, well-behaved versions of our old selves.
Don't put off to tomorrow what you need to do today. Life is too short. Make this day count.
Grateful for today,