Living in the Present

by Martha Nelson

My friends say I'm an organized person, and I must say my favourite shopping is done in stationery stores. I'm a sales rep and one of my favourite purchases in November is a new appointments diary. I could spend hours deciding which format, size and colour to get this year! Of course, keeping track of my appointments and responsibilities is an important part of my job. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?

However, being an organized person has its drawbacks. I often expect everything to be so organized that--when it's not--I get anxious or irritable. I'm anxious about "what will happen next" when things are up in the air--even though I know that even the plans written in my diary often change. I feel irritated by people or circumstances that aren't clear. Something inside me WANTS TO KNOW the future. But lately God has had to remind me of the importance of living in the present.

Missing Out

I've begun to see how often I miss out by not living in the present. My anxious thoughts about the future rob me of the present moment--and this is so wrong. How often I have sat at the dinner table--apparently engaged in conversation with a friend--while my mind was whirling away with thoughts of what I had to do after dinner! Perhaps you've done this in meetings or on walks by yourself. You may as well not be in the meeting or walking through that lovely park--your mind is elsewhere!

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about living in the present. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." (Matthew 6:34) In fact, we are told to "have NO anxiety about ANYTHING" (Philippians 4:5a). God's commanding us NOT to worry or be anxious about the future is enough reason to obey Him in this matter. But WHY has He told us these things?

Of course, the Bible is filled with promises of how God has already prepared good things for us. "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him." ( I Corinthians 2:9). Even when things go "wrong", we have the promise that "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him." (Romans 8:28). Our curious minds want to see around every corner--yet God has made our lives in such a way that even the most organized person cannot do this.

Why Worry?

Do you like to worry? "Of course not" you may say. And yet for some of us it can be an indulgent habit. It's really US trying to maintain control--when God says "cast your cares upon me, for I care for you." ( I Peter 5:7). To "cast" means to throw away entirely--instantly. To LET GO--versus handing over bit by bit til we're sure (in our eyes) that God has taken care of it in the way we expect.

I'm also understanding more how God has made us in such a way that we do not have the emotions or minds to deal with everything today. And to try to see the future only wears us out for the present.

So being organized isn't bad--in fact it's usually good for business. But I don't want to be so preoccupied with planning the future that I miss out on LIVING and enjoying a life of peace and confidence in God--right now.

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