the gift of the present

I’m moving at the end of the week. I’m packing everything I can fit in two suitcases, a carryon, and my purse, and I’m heading across the country. I’m taking a leap of faith that God wants me somewhere else, somewhere new. And what have I done to prepare for my life-changing trip? Nothing. My laundry sits in a pile on my chair. My suitcases are still hiding in the closet. And I haven’t even looked at what books I will have to bring with me. No, I’m sitting here on my bed with my laptop in front of me, typing away, thinking to myself, I can start later, maybe tomorrow.

We have a tendency to push things to the side, holding them off until later. Tomorrow is a blank slate, so we pile our plans, worries, problems, and deadlines on a moment in time that has yet to arrive. We have taken procrastination to an art form. We can shrug off the sense that time is catching up to us. We always have tomorrow. We can start it tomorrow. We forget, however, that tomorrow will become the present.

But if we always wait for tomorrow, what do we do today? How are we using the time God has given us in the present if we are waiting for the next day, week, month, year to arrive? How can we be present in our own lives if we don’t live it in the present? How much time are we wasting, how much life are we missing, because we assume it will be around tomorrow?

I’m a procrastinator at heart. I can put things off like a pro, because I’ve been doing it my whole life. There was no school assignment I can ever remember finishing with a few days to spare. I was lucky if I had hours to spare. But I was never worried, never stressed. I knew my own limits. I knew how far I could push myself, how little time I needed. I probably don’t have to tell you this is a bad habit to get into. Not because of the affect it can have on your schoolwork (my lowest grade ever was a B+ from high school through college… I know, nerd). I was lucky God didn’t let my bad habits affect my education. But I have let my bad habits affect my walk with Him.

God is always there. He is always waiting for us. The Holy Spirit is always within us. The Word is always beside us. And we take it for granted. We get into the mindset that there will always be more time. There will always be another day, another tomorrow for us to come to the Lord and finally decide to stop living for ourselves and start living for Him. We expect this eventuality, because so many other aspects of our life are built on the idea of tomorrow.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (6:34). We aren’t supposed to be worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow. It is going to happen no matter how anxious we are about it, and it will bring its own problems. Instead, we should focus on the day we’re living in, on the present, because it has its own problems for us to deal with. Each day was meant to be lived on that day. Reading this verse, I get this image of myself sweeping today’s problems into tomorrow, then sweeping those problems into the next day, and then sweeping them into the next day. Eventually, there is a huge pile of problems, beyond anything manageable, that I have to deal with. It is so overwhelming.

At some point, we won’t have a next day to sweep them to. There won’t be a tomorrow to put things off until, because suddenly it will be over. We are so bad at living in the present, assuming we will have another day and chance for the life we truly want to live. But why are we waiting? What good reason can we give for not just getting up off our bed or chair or couch and going into the world with a purpose, and just doing something? God has so many opportunities waiting for us in this world. There are things that we are meant to do, things we were created for. But instead we stay in our house, where things are comfortable and familiar and under our control. We become a bit passive, when we were created for action.

Donald Miller, in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, writes:

What I’m saying is I think life is staggering and we’re just used to it. We all are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given—it’s just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral.

We are so unimpressed by the world around us. Everything is the same as it always was. I think we are okay with maybe doing something tomorrow, because we’ve already seen what’s happening today, and honestly, we don’t care. But maybe things in the world are so unimpressive, because we aren’t living our lives to the fullest. We aren’t taking the moments that God’s given us and turning them into something unforgettable. I don’t believe its God’s responsibility to make the world more interesting for us. He isn’t here to entertain us or give us a better life than the boring one we have. We have the power to choose our path in life, to take action if we want something new. God will help us in our journey, but first we have to want it, we have to be willing to get up off the couch.

Each moment God gives us is a gift. And gifts are meant to opened and enjoyed when they are received. Who receives a gift then hides it away, thinking they will open it tomorrow or in a few weeks or maybe a decade? No one! We want to open it now. We want to know what it is at that exact moment. We are excited, thrilled, hopeful, and just so happy that there is a gift for us to open, and we want to experience it as soon as possible. This is how we should feel every morning when we open our eyes to a new day. That day is a gift from the one who wants to make us happy, who wants to see us enjoy life. The present we live in is God’s gift to us. We should embrace it and live it.

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3 thoughts on “the gift of the present

  1. Great post! I too am a procrastinator at heart! I have always lived by the mantra “why do today what i can put off until tomorrow?” I really like the thought of today being a gift, and we shouldn’t hide it away, but make the most of the gift God has given!

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

    • As a procrastinator, it can be so hard to live in the present. Its something God’s been working on with me.

      Thank you so much for reading! It means a lot.

  2. I have wanted to do the exact thing you said in the beginning of your post for so long and i’ve even fled the feeling God put in my heart to do it. God put in my heart that i need to help people that are less fortunate in their lives as we are in this country (US). Not everyone can wake up and have the freedom to make any decision freely. I wish i would stop procrastinationg and get over my anxiety. This post is both happy and sad for me. But inspiring even so. I hope you find the courage and faith to go on this trip God is wanting you to go on.

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