Before last year, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for the future. I like having a plan, or at the very least, having some idea about what's coming next.
So, I used to go to conferences, attend webinars, and read books about the future of leadership, the future of the church, the future of culture... And then last year happened, and just about everything I'd learned about the future became obsolete overnight.
If you were wondering, that sad fact has been a bitter pill to swallow for someone like me who likes to envision and plan for the future to be one or two steps ahead of the rest of the pack.
But all of the events of last year have brought home a realization that I believe I've needed. All of my planning and all of the efforts I used to make to exert control over the future were simply perpetuating an illusion.
I never had control. I might have been able to predict some things, but I sure as heck couldn't predict most things. All I was doing was mitigating my own anxiety, tamping down my feelings of helplessness, and essentially swinging my arms in the dark.
This past year helped to make that very clear to me. But it also created a whole new problem. When the false confidence in my ability to control the outcomes in my life was shattered, I started worrying more about what happened next.
And then I became less present in the present, and more focused than ever on what new calamities tomorrow might bring.
I'm trying to learn how to live differently. I want to worry less about the future and be more focused on what's happening in the here and now. I don't want to spend my days catastrophizing what might happen, or fretting about all the things that might go wrong, and then miss out on all of the things that are going right.
I read this line from a Mary Oliver poem the other day, and it spoke to me:
Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.
That's some good stuff right there. I want to embrace the truth of that so badly. I want to take the advice of Jesus, who told his followers "Listen, don't sweat over the things that might happen tomorrow----you've got enough going on today."
I've always imagined Jesus saying that to his disciples with a mischievous grin and a twinkle in his eye. He's pointing out the absurdity of worrying about how to control the outcomes of the future when there are so many things happening in front of you that need your attention or deserve your focus.
Bob Goff wrote this amazing gem in his book of daily meditations:
Hope restores the life fear tries to steal. Yesterday already happened and tomorrow isn't here yet. We only have today.
That is in essence what Jesus was trying to teach his followers. "We only have today." Today is a gift that you will miss out on if you keep worrying about tomorrow or living in regret over the things you didn't do yesterday.
Live in the moment today. Let your need to control your outcomes go, and simply rest in the glorious freedom of surrender. Tomorrow will get here soon enough. You only have today, and it is an amazing gift full of surprises, and moments of glory.
May you experience today in joy, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.
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