You Have Today
In just a few days, I'll be attending a concert that was supposed to have taken place in the summer of 2020, but then got postponed at least three times before now.
Before you get all judge-y on me... I'm fully vaccinated, the concert is outside in an amphitheater, the number of tickets available was reduced and I'll be wearing a mask the whole time.
But, I keep checking my emails and the concert website for updates half expecting it to be canceled or postponed again. I've gotten used to disappointment when it comes to these kinds of things.
In case you were wondering, I'm going to see the aging (but still fun) rock band KISS, who are on what feels like their twelfth "final" tour. I'll be accompanied by my middle son Jackson who I took to see the band about 8 years ago.
Hey man, if it's too loud... you're too old, am I right? 😉
Seriously, though... If the past eighteen months have taught us anything, they have taught us to hold our plans loosely. There's not a single person reading this today that doesn't get that particular truth.
We've all seen our best-laid plans laid to waste during these past many months. Vacations have been canceled, gatherings avoided, milestones passed without fanfare... you name it.
There have been more than a few moments during this long season of uncertainty when I have wondered when it will come to an end. Maybe you have wondered that, too.
I mean, we got close a few months ago to things getting back to as normal as they could be, and then the rug got pulled out from under us with the emergence of that dad-blamed Delta Variant.
The choice that we have before us, friends, is a simple one: We can bemoan a past that we can't go back to, and dread a future that hasn't yet arrived, or we can get to living and learning in the moments that we are given, right here and right now.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
James the brother of Jesus warned early Christians about trying to control the future, dictate the outcomes, and try to find security in certainty:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
That's good advice, to be sure, but often a challenge to employ because in our efforts to find certainty in an uncertain world, we tend to gloss over the very things that Jesus wanted his followers to know intimately.
You see, Jesus repeatedly exhorted his followers to embrace the present as the only reality that matters. He warned them about predicting the future, exhorted them not to cling to the past, and taught them to be fully present in the present.
Philosopher Alan Watt once wrote:
There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.
We can't go back to the past, and honestly, any remembrance we have of the past is filtered through our lenses of selective memory, nostalgia, regret, wishful thinking, and the like.
Additionally, we can't know what tomorrow brings. We can plan (and we should), prepare, and anticipate the future in positive ways, but we can't know for sure what will happen tomorrow. We also can't change what will happen or affect the outcomes by worrying over the future, or dreading what might come.
We have today. This is why Jesus told his followers to focus on the present moment and trust both the future and the past to God. He wanted them to live fully in the present, free from worry and regret.
If we can learn this valuable lesson, it has the power to change our lives, and perhaps even the world around us.
May you find joy in living fully in the present, and embracing the gifts that today brings. May it be so for you today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.