Christian Living

Being Mindful of the Present

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During my theology studies, I enjoyed some interesting literature by Kenneth Boa called, Conformed to His Image. He makes a profound statement that really stuck with me: “For many people, life has become so filled with the if-only of the future that today becomes an inconvenient obstacle to the path of reaching tomorrow.”[1] It dawned on me that at times in my life I had been letting the products of the unforeseen future destroy my present. I know I’ve briefly addressed the topic of appreciating the present when I wrote my short article called, Living Today. I would like to further address it in this article by sharing some ideas I have previously expressed in my coursework.

 

What do I mean by products destroying my present? Well, for example, today I realized that instead of enjoying the adventures of the job hunt and the possibilities of learning a new trade, I am dwelling on how I don’t already have all the things that the perfect job can give to me. As someone who easily gets stuck in a rut now and again, I noticed that I get extremely fixated on where I feel like I should be at in my life. I only focus on the things I do not have. Many of these things I may not ever acquire. It creates a huge amount of discontent in the moment.

 

Sometimes this discontentment becomes so overwhelming that it makes me want to just stay in the rut and not think about it. The reality is that these fixations are actually some of the things that are bringing me down, holding me back, and preventing me from taking the first steps. I know that I have been guilty of losing myself in the acquisition of the product rather than enjoying the process that God wants me to experience.

 

Another tension exists in the way I have been utilizing my time. God gives us the blessing of time, and the tendency of a fallen nature is to waste time by procrastinating or to use the time to only accomplish results derived from selfish ambition. My tendency is definitely to procrastinate. That, or I am beating myself up over obtaining results in the future. Often my striving for results is driven by a selfish desire to impress my peers.

 

One major area I notice this affects is within the realm of relationship building. This is not just limited to building relationships with other human beings but also the relationship with God. An unhealthy balance can develop. Drive for success only in the temporal often causes us to feel the strain between the desires of this world and our services to God. Boa mentions that this tension can cause us to put a “spiritual veneer” over our true intentions, which often are not first and foremost in keeping with God’s plan.[2]

 

One other thing Boa said that hit me hard was: “We are warned not to waste time, but we are brought up to waste our lives. This is evident in the tragedy of many people who in the first half of their lives spend their health looking for wealth and in the last half spend their wealth looking for health.”[3] What a sobering thought.

 

A regard for the future is a necessity. I believe progress and accomplishing goals are an amazing privilege. I want to stress that living in the present is not an excuse to fail to progress and set goals. The idea is that it is important to not let anything take away from the moment God has given us in the present. I want to be more present and active in God’s plan right here and now. Not just in the distant future. A healthy perspective of the time God has given us is certainly something worth praying about:

 

Lord, please help me to be more focused on you and not on my own selfish ambition. Help me to be active in your plan and to walk with you now in the present.  Help me enjoy the process and the journey you have blessed me with and to know that the ultimate product/goal/destination has already been bought by Christ’s sacrifice. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

 

[1] Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 256.

[2] Boa, Conformed to His Image, 269.

[3] Boa, Conformed to His Image, 268.

 

 

Featured Photo Attribution: Is my own, “Sunset at Union Terrace,” © Copyright 2017 Lines of Lazarus
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