Start Living In The Present
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:13-14
“Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there for a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone,” reads a paraphrase of what James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in the first century.
Nonetheless, it has been more than half-a-century since the world looked much darker than it does at the present moment. A pundit once said, “If there is life on other planets, they must be using earth for their insane asylum!” Irrational violence, threats of nuclear warfare, storms creating turbulence and disasters have increased in quantum numbers causing us to ask, “What’s happening? Has the entire world gone berserk?” “Has God locked and bolted the door of heaven and left us to our own undoing?” As Jeanette Lockerbie wrote:
Tomorrow’s at my door, God.
I shrink. I take a halting, backward step—
For what I do not know I dread.
As fog on a winding, hilly road curtaining the way ahead, I fear tomorrow at my door
The beginning of a New Year always creates a measure of uncertainty, as we wonder what lies ahead—not only for the vast numbers of earth-bound pilgrims on planet earth, but more specifically what lies ahead for each of us as individuals.
Yesterday is a cancelled check, written in ink that we cannot change. Tomorrow is a promissory note written in pencil, subject to erasures made by the invisible, uncertain hand of fate. How do we put the past behind us and find God’s grace and strength for tomorrow?
I am reminded of the father who took his small child for a walk, and as the sun sank in the western sky, the lad gripped his father’s hand; but as darkness set in, the little boy gripped his father’s hand more firmly. The late Ira Stanphill wrote the words, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand!” The assurance gives you faith and strength to face whatever may come your way tomorrow. Said Abraham Lincoln, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time,” and worrying about what may happen only blights the joy of the moment and dims the assurances of God’s power and presence in relationship to the future.
When a publisher asked me to write a booklet about my favorite verse from the Bible, I had to start thinking of the many that are meaningful to me. Finally, I realized two passages, both telling the same thing, speak louder than any other theme or verse. The first came from the pen of Matthew, who recorded the words of Jesus shortly before He returned to heaven. He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” The second is recorded in the book of Hebrews, when Jesus said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you so we may say, ‘the Lord is my helper; I shall not fear what men shall do to me” (Hebrews 13:8).
Forget about the uncertainty of tomorrow. Don’t waste time asking what may happen and, rather, focus on the rock-solid promises found in God’s Word, the Bible. Remember when you cross the threshold of tomorrow, God will be there to welcome you and walk with you. Live for today and leave tomorrow in His hands!
Resource reading: James 4:7-17