Some people have emotional and mental hangups that cause them to live in the past. Others constantly worry about the future such that they cannot live in or enjoy the present. Still yet, some folks miss living in the present by wearing “rose colored glasses” constantly and never quite coming to grips with reality. In any case, it should be obvious that a healthy mental outlook considers the past, lives in the moment, and plans prudently for the future. This is a widely accepted mental health recipe for reducing stress in our lives.
It occurs to me that this is what these articles have been about, though they have been biblically based. Life is not all about reducing stress, however when we live according to God's plan, that is one beneficial result. The past is the past and it can never be changed; we can learn from the past how to live more acceptably in the present. The future is just that, future. We may plan for it wisely, but too much emphasis on managing the future is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness and worry. God's plan for me, as much as anything else, includes the ability to live in the moment and to be content with it. That was at least a part of Paul's point when he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4.11-13).
Living in the present is a skill that does not come easily to some of us. We want to control everything in our future and just as frequently amend everything in our past. A little then and now is OK now and then, but too much is not a good thing. Even humanity in its rawest forms recognize this principle. Winston Churchill had it right when he said, “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” I'm not too keen on Henry Ford's statement that “...history is more or less bunk,” but I'm sure he had a point worth grasping in that his emphasis was about living in the present.
Of course there can be no greater statement than that spoken by Christ Himself. From the Sermon on the Mount we read, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6.25-27). He went on to mention the lilies of the field and God's constant care for them, and then to say, “...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6.34).
The focus of the healthy mind is on the present and living in it in a righteous manner. The past is the past and cannot be revised. The future is in a loving Father's hands and must be seen that way. An old adage truthfully says, “Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Adapt that to time and righteous living and that adage becomes, “Take care of the present by living uprightly and God will take care of the future!” A little then and now is OK now and then, but righteous people live contentedly in the present!
1. How much of the future is actually on our hands to control? How much is in God's hands?
2. What was Jesus point as he spoke about not worrying about tomorrow? Did He mean that we are never to plan? What part did seeking the Kingdom first have in this discourse?
3. Does living righteously mean living without heartache or pain? Are these things of any value in the present or the future? Why or why not?
4. Faith means confidence and trust. Do we truly trust God when we fret about the future?
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