Most of us are so busy reliving the past or being anxious about the future that we miss living in the present. We would do well to heed the simple advice of the old song: “Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus! And tomorrow’s still out of sight. Teach me today, show me the way, One day at a time.”
We all know that the present is all we really have. What is past is past and we can do nothing to change it, but only learn from it. what is in the future is unknown, as is our own future unknown. What we have is today!
And every “today” offers us choices as we live out our lives. The choices must be made in the “present”, but they help determine how we deal with our past and what our future might be.
Victor Frankl, a German Jew who was placed in one of Hitler’s worst concentration camps during World War Two and yet survived, wrote that the one thing that a concentration camp could not take away from the inmates was their power to choose what attitude they would have. We have been created by God and given the power to make choices as human beings from the beginning of creation. Regardless of what happens , we can, for example:
- Choose to love—rather than to hate.
- Choose to smile—rather than frown.
- Choose to build—-rather than destroy.
- Choose to persevere—-rather than quit.
- Choose to praise—rather than criticize.
- Choose to heal—rather than wound.
- Choose to give—rather than grasp.
- Choose to act—-rather than delay.
- Choose to forgive—rather than blame and hold a grudge
- Choose to pray—rather than despair
All of the above and much more are choices we are faced with, often on a daily basis. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes”. In the long run, we shape our lives aand we shape ourselves and help shape our world by these choices.
The choices we make are ultimately our responsibility, but we have wisdom available to us if we place our trust in God and pray for God’s guidance for our lives, acknowledging that we do not know it all but stand in need of God’s loving wisdom.
That wisdom is there for us when we pray words such as Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can change; and the wisdom to know one from the other.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words of advice to the churches in Ephesus : Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
The original Greek translated “making the most of our time” expresses the idea of “redeeming the time—i.e. purchasing, buying up, and then setting free the time, as slaves could do during ancient times. As we redeem our time from the domination of the past and the fear of the future we are better able to live our lives fully in the present! That “Makes the Most of our Time.”