The speed of life propelled by the nearly instant electronic media that we use every day can have a significant effect on each of us. Our minds and hearts flit from one thing to another without even realizing how often we are not fully present. All of this also tempts us to not be as satisfied with the gift of the present. We scroll through things online that we think will add to our happiness and keep looking ahead for what we hope will be different, better, or more for tomorrow. Contentment can seem elusive many days.
We talk about wanting to slow down but the habits we have acquired keep creeping back in. The enforced change of pace during the pandemic revealed how much shifting our lives into a slowed neutral pace felt uncomfortable. The pandemic also didn’t help us with the stress and uncertainty that came with it. Some are still sorting out how to move back into whatever the new pace for us might be and somewhat startled at our responses to feeling odd going to a shopping mall or movie.
Uncertainties have left more of us anxious than ever before as we desire to know more about what lays ahead while also dreading or fearing it. Some of us have come through these months with a fresh appreciation for the gift and provision of each day and want to hang onto some of that as we move back into many things we couldn’t do during the pandemic.
“When we are young, time goes very slowly, not because time is anything but regular because we are always rushing then. Living in the moment is not the mark of youth. Instead, the young are always on the way to somewhere else. They have no patience for now – because they live their lives trying to get beyond the confines of now to the possibilities of soon. They want to get to be older, to be independent, to be important, to be wealthy, to be somebody. They are immersed in wanting.
The old, on the other hand, have long ago exhausted both the wanting and the going and the striving. They are immersed in being. Being alive, being healthy, being present to the moment, being who they are, being happy, being young again in delight and in vision.”Joan Chittister
Little wonder that we as believers have challenges living in “the now and the not yet.” We forget how often we lean forward to Christ’s return and lose the opportunities of today. We forget what God so patiently tried to teach the children of Israel in the wilderness by supplying them manna just for that one day and what happened when they didn’t trust that. We forget that God doesn’t tell us a lot of things in advance because his provision for those things will not arrive until those things happen. He also knows we would seek to try to control what isn’t yet upon us without trusting Him for the “then.”
“God conceals much that we do not need to know, yet we do know that He calls us His own sheep by name and leads them out. When does that begin? Does the Shepherd overlook anything that the sheep need?”Elisabeth Elliott
The matter of looking at time brings a song from the epic musical Les Misérables to mind (“One Day More”) and how those in this story of the revolution in France are measuring time. The lyricists (Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer) begin the song with the lines, “One day more, another day, another destiny” and goes on considering life and what lays ahead. As the powerful song closes, the words reflect on a truth that is more to the point for each of us…
“Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store
One more dawn
One more day
One day more”
We forget in the paradox of living within time that we both have more of it and less of it than we imagine. What is key for us each day is what we do with the gift of time given to us. We can squander it by looking back at what didn’t happen, what we missed, what we were owed, or what we regret or stretch out trying to live in a better tomorrow that we paint with better colors and tones. All the while, the time under our noses keeps slipping away.
As we stand on tiptoes anticipating Christ’s return, let us not forget to take advantage of every moment of today to live well for Him and use that which He has placed within us for his glory.
“Time is a wondrous thing, if only I fill it well. If I do not allow the passing of time to diminish my spirit but, instead, see it as a call to live life to the dregs… Then time is my friend, not my enemy. It gives me a heightened sense of life. It urges me to discover it all. It marks the fullness of life, its mellowing, and it releases in me the self that has been coming into existence from the beginning.”Joan Chittister