When I slow down enough to reflect on life do I long for yesterday, yearn for the future, or relish today? Too often my life is a pin ball bouncing here and yon without rhyme or reason. There’s no adequate explanation to much of life’s mysteries, so I cling to a simple faith in the midst of it all. I trust the Incarnational Jesus, the One who is with me through it all. I neither long for the supposed good old days of yesterday nor pine for the future. Many want to go backwards in their minds to events and days that look good from today’s perspective. It’s like rewatching a football game when you know the winning result. There’s a little tension once in a while, but you can mostly relax and enjoy it because you know how it turns out. When you daydream or do your version of counting sheep at night, do you ponder the past or the future? Which is your happy place?
I am convicted this morning. My mind goes to both places, past and future, and misses today. Sure, I have to process the past in order to move on. I have to work with its emotional baggage before the dam breaks and floods today’s thinking, but how unfortunate I am if I stay in the past too long. The present is a gift, pun intended. As for tomorrow’s hopes and dreams, they will never materialize if I don’t do what I need to do today. I can anticipate better days in the future, but they are pipe dreams of false hopes if I don’t commit myself to living today – putting one foot in front of the other, loving the people around me right now, knowing the Incarnational Christ who is ever present in THIS time of trouble.
The hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” is dancing through my head as a word I need to hear today. This version by Fernando Ortega is a bit out of sync with the version in the United Methodist Hymnal in verb tenses, theological slant, and leaves out a significant verse, but I still appreciate his voice, tempo, and scenery. Verse 4 of #139 in our hymnal says, “Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee; fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee. Then to thy need God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.” Its present tense feel of God’s healing and equipping grace is too good to leave out. Give a listen and add the verse above!
So stay in the present. That’s where God is for you today. Sure, work through the past and give it to God. God was there, too. Plus you can give the Lord all your tomorrows. But today, where will God be? Closer than a breath, with you in tears and hopes, ever present to conquer your fears and frustrations, and deliver you! Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us now!
Listen to what Robert J. Burdette says about lingering in the past and longing for the future at the expense of embracing today:
“There are two golden days in the week about which I never worry – two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is yesterday. Yesterday, with all its cares and frets, all its pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes, and blunders, has passed forever beyond recall. I cannot unsay a word once said. All that it holds of my life – of wrong, of regret and sorrow – is in the hands of the Mighty Love that can bring honey out of the rock and the sweetest water out of the bitterest desert. Save for the beautiful memories, sweet and tender, that linger like the perfume of roses in the heat of the day that is gone, I have nothing to do with yesterday. It was mine. It is God’s now.
And the other day that I do not worry about is tomorrow. Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its perils, its large promise and poor performance, its failures and mistakes, is as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, yesterday. It’s God’s day. Its sun will rise in splendor or behind a mass of clouds, but it will rise.
Until then, the same love and patience that held yesterday, holds tomorrow. Save for the star of hope and faith that gleams forever on the brow of tomorrow, shining with tender promise into the heart of today, I have no possession in that unborn day of grace. Tomorrow is God’s day. It will be mine.
There is left for myself, then, but one day in the week – today! And you can fight battles of today. Any person can fight the battles of today. Any person can resist temptation for just one day. Any man or woman can carry the burdens for just one day. It is only when we willfully add the burdens of those awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow – such burdens as only the mighty God can sustain – that we break down. It isn’t the experience of today that drives people mad, it is the remorse of something that happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow brings. Those are God’s days; leave them with God.
Therefore, I think and I do and I journey, but one day at a time. That is my day. Dutifully, I run my course and work my appointed task on that day of mine; and God, the Almighty and All-loving, takes care of yesterday and tomorrow.”
Have a great day today! As much as I like the Beatles’ song “Yesterday,” it is not a friend of what Jesus can do in and through you today – “This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!” Commit yesterday and tomorrow to the Lord and live for today!