In my experience with grief, I deal with two big temptations; living in the past or escaping into the future. For months following Bev’s death, almost every day I paged through old photos, remembering our life together. Memory can be a gift but it unreliable. I tend to make Bev a saint and to see my failures in a much darker shade! When I try to escape sorrow by looking far into the future, imagining what life might be, I am unproductive in the present, missing the opportunities of this day.
The wisdom of God urges me to take the grace He is providing right now!
Are you a captive of ‘yesterday?’
Are you letting regret to throw a chain of sadness or fear over you so that you will not walk confidently into what God has planned for today? Yesterday should be a teacher. Learning from the past is critical, but so is forgiveness. We need to know the forgiveness of God as well as being willing to make the choice to forgive those who have offended us. Jesus, knowing how important it was to let go of the past, taught to the disciples. “Pray like this, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12, KJV) The Word promises that when we “confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse.” (1 John 1:9) Maybe it is not regret that has gripped you. Are you trying to recapture some moment of joy, reclaim some achievement, relive some spiritual experience? It is time to let go and to thank God for what was good. Build on what was done with excellence, and face forward.
Are you dreaming about tomorrow?
When I am trying to live in the future, I can easily justify procrastination. Certainly, I am not the only one who has excused apathy today thinking life will be easier when ‘I have more time,‘ or ‘more money,‘ or ‘when the kids are grown,’ or ‘if I get that new job.’ Hope is a wonderful thing. I am powerfully drawn along in my Christian life by the promise eternal life, but, even as I keep Heaven in my sights on the horizon of time, I choose to live in the present.
Read this passage from Hebrews 3 and take note of the word “today.” “So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe … That’s why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, please listen’ … watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul. These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.” (Hebrews 3:1,7, 12-14, The Message)
The writer is referring to the Israelites who were called out of Egypt to the Promised Land. In spite of many experiences of the faithfulness and power of God, they failed to walk with God because they looked back at yesterday or they anticipated tomorrow, falling into fear. The past and the future were excuses for their rejection of the plan of God ‘today.’ The rosy tint of memory caused them to forget the cruelty of their Egyptian task-masters! Their fear of unknown future caused them to discount God’s power so that they refused His call to claim the Promised Land. As a result, that generation died in the desert.
Make the most of today’s opportunities.
Here is a word from the Word, one packed with promise.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NIV)
Take the blessings of the present and pray with me:
“Father, thank you for this day.
Thank you for opportunities to do good,
to experience Your grace, and to see Your provision for my needs today.
Forgive me of the sins of yesterday, Lord, and release me from the chains of regret and guilt. Give me the greatness of heart to set others free from indebtedness as You have forgiven me in Christ Jesus.
Open my eyes to the possibilities that exist today. Help me to look around and to see what You’re doing now and to join You in making a difference in the world.
Holy Spirit, fill me powerfully with life and let me be a life-giver to the people that I will interact with today.
In the name of Jesus, my Redeemer and my Hope, I ask these things. Amen.”