Right up front, I want to let you know this is a lesson I have not yet completed. Even writing about it has been a struggle, which makes me more determined not only to write about it, in hopes of helping you who read it, but also to get it working consistently in my own life. I’m talking about living in the now. Let me share with you the simple way the Lord brought it back to my attention.
Not long ago, there was an article in the Parade magazine by Cesar Milan (Dog Whisperer) about the lessons we can learn from our dogs. One particular part of it really caught my attention – about dogs just being happy to be alive, and celebrating each thing they do, no matter how many times they have done it. To them, it’s the best walk they’ve ever had, the greatest dog food they’ve eaten, or the most wonderful tummy rub they’ve ever received! They definitely live in the now.
I do realize that dogs don’t have all the issues of life that we do, and part of their living in the now really comes from living for the now, which is not what we need. I do believe, though, that we could find much more contentment if we tried things their way a bit more. They are so delighted with whatever it is they are doing right now because they are not focused so much on what comes next, or in the next day, or week, or month. They give their all to whatever they are engaged in that very moment. When that is over, they give their all to the next thing – even if it is merely sleep. The Bible addresses this kind of attitude with clear admonishment.
Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” AMP
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” NIV
Whether I am worried or anxious about all the tomorrow issues I’m not certain, but I do know that I think about them – a lot. Because I have an administrative gift from the Lord, I plan and organize. On its own, that is not a problem, and is a necessary part of life. When it’s not kept in balance, it keeps me from living in the now, for I’m always thinking about what I will do in the next hour, day, week, or month. This means I’m really living in the future right now. Even when I’m supposed to be in rest and recreation, my planning mind is mulling things over. Rarely do I truly engage fully in an activity, because at least part of my mind is elsewhere. I know this is not how the Lord wants me (or any of us) to live. This is the day, or the hour, or the moment the Lord has made. I want to rejoice and be glad in it – fully and completely giving my all in it, even if it’s rest! I know this is what God wants for me, and I know it is possible.
Jesus, our example, had a very full life. In reading the gospels, though, I never get the impression that He rushed from one place to the next, or that He was only partly engaged with whoever was in His presence. He knew that what He did this very moment, not just this whole day, was the most important thing for Him to do, regardless of what was to come. The person who was with Him was the most important person to Him at that moment. He gave His all day in and day out, not just when He went to the cross. Even when He knew He was about to be arrested and crucified, He gave Himself fully to teaching the disciples during the last supper!
Besides this, when it was time to sleep, Jesus lived in the now. It’s pretty amazing to think about His ability to sleep in the bottom of a boat that was in a major storm and filling with water! He wasn’t in a coma; He was just living in the now in His rest! Those times He pulled away to be with His Father, He was fully involved. He may have been tempted to dwell on things that had happened, or things He knew were coming up, like we are, but He made the choice to put His entire focus on the Lord Himself. Can you imagine how those times must have been? He didn’t miss one single thing the Father wanted to show Him, say to Him, or prepare Him for, nor any of the refreshing of just being in His Presence. The most encouraging part of this is knowing that, if Jesus could live in the now, we can, too.
My heart yearns to spend uninterrupted time like that with my Father – uninterrupted by my own thoughts and plans; to be fully involved with the person in front of me, not thinking about the next person I need to see or the next activity I need to accomplish; to relax and rest, as Jesus did when He was on the earth. It’s not impossible! Jesus wasn’t able to live in the now because He was God, but because He lived by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that lives in me. I am determined to live this same way by the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus can be seen in me – in attitude, action, word, even inaction. Because of His completely sufficient grace, and by His Holy Spirit, I will live in the now, despite the intense battle to the contrary. I am determined to live in the now! To God be all the glory – right now and forever!