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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

But now...

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, "The past, the present, and the future are really one...they are today."  There are those who have a tendency to "blame" whatever it is they are experiencing today on a "crappy" past - things didn't go well for them "then", so they are certainly not going to change "now". What Beecher said bears some study, for it is true - the past affects our present and our present sets the stage for our future - in essence making today the most important day of all!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38 NLT)

There is indeed a great deal in our "past" that could affect our present - but it doesn't have to do so in a negative or damaging way because grace declares the past "done" or "over with". Yes, we can still have the consequences to deal with, such as when our past involved the use of illegal drugs and now we are experiencing the physical effects of having "done drugs". Our teeth may be rotting, but we don't have to focus on the "damage done" as much as the redemption accomplished through grace. Those consequences of our past are nothing compared to the redemptive and restorative power of grace!

It is quite possible some would report their "present" isn't all that great, leading them to suppose their future will also not be all that spectacular. They just cannot see any benefit in today's struggles or monumental issues. Their focus is on the difficulty and not the potential. Isn't it a shame to miss out on what today brings in the form of the "keeping power" of Christ and the lessons we learn when his power takes over in place of our own? As scripture declares, our "tomorrow" is not guaranteed (James 4:13-16). We can make all manner of plans for the future and totally miss what today holds in the form of strength, increased capacity, and growth.

Indeed, our "today" is made up of the many challenges of our yesterdays and the tremendous hope we have in our tomorrows. We just cannot dwell upon either of those exclusively - we garner from them what helps us in our today! There are some weeks when my schedule is so crammed packed with meetings and work which needs to be accomplished that I feel like I am lugging around a weight. Other weeks are a little easier sailing and I can really experience time to be creative - instilling new energy into some project. If I let the weight of those busy days carry over into the freedom of those other days, I'd never enjoy the creative energies!

It is quite possible we are called to focus on today as a place of developing trust - not in ourselves, but in the strength and power of Christ given to us with immeasurable amounts of grace that will actually help us get through today. Some of our greatest moments are those we actually are "present" in - we are "participators" in those moments. We aren't the ones "making" those moments by our own power, but we are actually deriving strength from them because we are living in those moments through the power of Christ in us. This actually requires his assistance to let go of the past - so we don't focus our energies on things we cannot change. It also requires his assistance to not get so caught up in the "what if" scenarios of our future that we totally miss the "but now" moments right in front of us. Just sayin!