Now is the gift of the present nestled between before and after. It is here for the briefest of time and how we use it and steward it shapes the after even as it has been shaped by the before. In my world the now means autumn that is racing toward winter as the show-stopping colors of leaves have nearly all fallen from the trees and blown from lawn to lawn in our neighborhood giving the lawns a final shower of color. This now is a favorite season of mine but as November marches forward and days are colder and grayer, I delight in the now.
Many of us talk of enjoying the moment we are in while too often letting it slip through our fingers in our distractions and involvement with the details of life that call out for our attention. It can be easy to miss pausing long enough to take note of the sun’s placement in the sky, the lilt of the voice of someone we love, the taste of the coffee we gulp down to awaken us when we are drowsy, and so many other things. But these are the things when life is reduced to the basics that we savor the most when the debris of so much we don’t need is swept away.
“Sometimes we are so busy looking up and looking forward trying to figure out the next moves in our lives – or looking backward at all the places we have been – that we don’t look down and figure out where we actually are.”Bob Goff
Where am I in now? Where are you and why is it important to know?
It’s important because it represents life and what we do with it has consequences. If we use the now to squander our money, neglect our relationships, leave our talents and gifts gathering dust on the shelf, we will have devalued the gift of the present, the gift of now. That doesn’t mean we should be racing around every minute of the now, but rather realizing it is slipping like sand in an hourglass. Putting off what we have now for another time presumes we are the author of time and know how much we have ahead of us. The evil one who seeks to defraud us of life knows that well and uses all manner of tactics to keep us from taking the gift of now and breathing life into it.
“…evil wants to distract us from expressing our gifts and doing what we are meant to do. Darkness is rarely content to wound us with one decisive blow when it can injure us equally with a thousand paper cuts.”Bob Goff
Most of us are familiar with the pain a small paper cut can create. It nags at us and causes us to lose focus for other things until it heals. Paper cuts Goff speaks of come with things like regret at a hasty word spoken without thought in anger, missed opportunities to speak a word of love or encouragement to someone, or even to set aside our spiritual nurture for too much time scrolling on the devices that surround us.
We hear reminders about the important things, the things that really matter and how our focus should be on those very things while paper cut after paper cut in all forms pull us aside from them. The evil one would choose to do that because he knows it is in these other things, we will find joy. Reminding ourselves of that brings us to the powerful story in Nehemiah where the debris from the destruction of Jerusalem in the 5th century is the focus of his now. His focus and purpose are to rebuild it despite being surrounded by enemies who would dissuade him and those who help him. He tells the people with nothing not to grieve in Nehemiah 8:10 and ends the verse with the words “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
We are a part of the “information age” where it is accumulated and disseminated in more forms than ever imagined 50 years ago. Facts are important but we don’t need more facts and all the questions about their veracity. Our quest for them has not brought us more kindness, unselfishness, or joy.
“We need to block our view of the things that hardly matter at all, stop returning to the patterns that do not serve our larger objectives, start recognizing what is temporary and transitory, and instead focus intensely on the things that will last forever: our faith, our families, and our purposes.”Bob Goff
Amid all that, Paul reminds us of about now:
“For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a] Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!”
2 Corinthians 6:2 (NET)
What will you do with now?