Wasting a Life

“It is a moment of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there will never be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.”

‘This is the day which the Lord has made,’ says Psalm 118. ‘Let us rejoice and be glad in it’ (v. 24). Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. The point is to see it for what it is, because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing.
All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from it. Today is the only day there is.

~originally published in Whistling in the Dark, Fredrick Beuchner

The above quote from Frederick Beuchner is a poignant reflection on being conscious and sensitively mindful of living in the present moment.  Jesus echo’s being present in the moment when he tells us, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? . . . . Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:31,34). 

So how do we live faithfully in the present moment?  Mindfulness must be characterized by obeying Jesus’ command to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  What does this mean?  One response that would help is to remember that the phrase, “kingdom of God” is best understood as “the reign of God.”  The righteousness of God speaks to trusting in God’s promises and character.  In other words, we must be mindful to trust in God’s reign in everything we think, do, and feel.  God is not far away, but he is closer to our own selves then we will ever be!  God is the mystery at the center of why we exist and why we even can ask why in the first place.  As one author I once read said, “God is not the explanation for everything, but is the explanation for why we have explanations!”  God is not the answer to a question but is larger than any question. 

We must learn to trust in the reign of God in each and every waking moment in this life and world.  Otherwise, as Jesus says, anxiety will seek to waste us of life in the present moment and beckon us to chase a tomorrow that does not exist or yesterday that is gone.  As Beuchner stated so eloquently, “If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting.”

–Terry


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