June 22, 2012
Music is so powerful. When I hear a song I know, memories of people and events from the past pop into my head. The lyrics can also take me to past experiences, some good and some bad. When I listen to praise music, certain songs will stir up remembrances of my past sins and mistakes. But the best songs also triumphantly culminate in Jesus’ love, sacrifice, and victory, which often brings tears to my eyes. The tears are from guilt, remorse, sadness, joy, thankfulness, relief, and bewilderment all at the same time.
It’s very tempting for us to live in the past. Most of us do … replaying old scenes in our minds, fighting old battles, holding grudges for past hurts, or limiting ourselves and our futures because of past mistakes. But most of all, whether we realize it or not, we find ourselves spending energy reliving past scenarios, again and again. Here’s the sad and real truth … the past is over.
The second most common place for our minds to linger … is the future. Our minds are filled with hopes, fantasies … and fears for the future. The only future item we know for certain is our destination. What that destination is concretely like and every other element of our future is really unknown. Like the shadows of the past, visions of the future are not real. Both the pains of our past and the fears of our future (even tomorrow) take up huge amounts of our time and mind-space. We become prisoners of our own selves. Most importantly, these images take us away from the place where we can have the greatest effect on our reality: the present.
How foolish we are to squander our only opportunity to affect reality – the present – by spending so much effort on our useless fears of the future and old wounds and scars from the past. I am not saying we don’t remember and study the past, or don’t plan for the future. But those activities should help us focus on and maximize what we do in the present. If you are looking back realistically to become a good steward of your mind and your decisions in the present, that’s perfect. If you are looking back and letting the past distort your view of God, yourself, or your present circumstances, you’ll find that is where Satan wants you, and he will eat you for dinner.
Today, when your mind drifts forward or backward on your personal timeline, examine the motivation for dwelling on that part of your life and think about the rate of return it brings. Usually, to get back on track where God wants you, where you have maximum fulfillment and functioning, your mind needs to be focused on the present. Remember that God actually defined himself with the statement, “I AM.” This statement tells us that God is the timeless Present. One of the most important spiritual exercises is to live in the present, which is to live in reality. Where on your timeline you live is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father, I come to You in thanksgiving for the wisdom of Your scripture. I’m guilty of constantly escaping the present and wasting time and energy on the past. Help me release and let go of the past. Help me, once and for all, to forgive those who have hurt me. I know it is the lack of my final forgiveness that keeps my mind locked in the past. Help me heal, Lord; help me stop scratching at old sores; help me stop seeking relief by fantasizing about the future. I stop my mind from wandering and I focus on You, my Lord. You are the true revealer of my reality. I know it is only in the present that I can find You. I pray this in the name of my reality foundation, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14