It’s hard to live in the now. Life is moving so quickly these days that it seems to zoom by at head-spinning speed. In spite of that, now is all we’re guaranteed. How can I change that? How can I make sure that life doesn’t pass me by?
Living in the Now
I’ve never been one to dwell too much on the past. My particular obsession is the future. A nice little trait I inherited from my Dad. I’ve realized that by keeping my head in the future, I tend to miss the now.
Someone once said that life is what happens to you while you’re worried about other things. I can relate to that. My kids all grew up while I was worried about other things. My grandkids arrived and are growing up while I worry about other things.
The tyranny of “other things” can blind you to the true beauty of life — which always happens in the present. In fact, everything happens in the present.
Jesus and the Present
Jesus lived in the present. He said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:27). He went on to talk about how the birds and the flowers don’t worry about tomorrow and God takes really good care of them. Don’t you think he will take care of you?
He then advises them to focus on God and his Kingdom and let God take care of everything else. He ends the teaching by saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).
In other words — Live fully in the present knowing that God is going to take care of all your tomorrows.
Now, this does not mean that Jesus is against planning for your future. He also told a parable about a man who wants to build a tower but doesn’t take time to plan it. He gets halfway through the project and realizes that he doesn’t have the resources to finish it. Jesus calls him a fool (Luke 14:28). Jesus says you have to count the cost ahead of time.
There’s nothing wrong with planning. It’s smart. Jesus just doesn’t want you to be so consumed with the planning that you miss the living.
He told another parable about a farmer who was consumed with growing his farm. He spent all evening planning to build bigger barns (Luke 12:20). What he didn’t know was that he was going to die that night. The time would have been better spent kissing his wife and children.
This is Jesus’ point — planning for the future is fine, but all of life happens in the present — don’t miss it.
Five Ways to Live in the Present
So, here are a few practical Jesus things you can do to live more in the present.
1. Create time-space in your life.
Jesus did some of his most creative work in the interruptions.
He was on the way to heal a girl who was deathly ill when he was interrupted by a woman who had been sick for a long time (Mark 5:30). Even though the appointment he was headed for was extremely urgent (the little girl would die before Jesus could get there), he took time to stop and help the woman who was sick.
Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem when he saw a man sitting in a tree (Luke 19:5). Jesus needed to get to Jerusalem, but he took the time to talk to Zacchaeus and even to have dinner with him.
Jesus was able to do this because he created space-time in his life.
We try to cram too much into one day. We tend to schedule our day with little to no time between appointments or assignments. It’s go-go-go all day long. Believe me — I’m the worst offender.
Here’s the problem — divine appointments tend to come from moments that are not on your calendar.
I’ve learned to create time between things. This way I am not in a mad rush from one appointment to another. It’s hard, but it will bring a calm and a peace that is worth it!
And when you are walking through life instead of running you tend not to miss the divine appointments.
2. Ask a lot of questions.
Take time to talk to people. And ask them a lot of questions. Life is about people. It’s not about you. It’s not about getting ahead or making a lot of money or being admired — it’s about people.
The other day I was at lunch with a group of senior adult men at our church. They were all over eighty. The man I was sitting next to was ninety. I asked him a few questions and pretty soon he was telling me about his experiences in the Navy. It was a fascinating time as I learned more about his amazing journey through life.
I was living in the now. And it filled me up with joy.
The present is filled with amazing and interesting people. Take time to get to know them. Ask a lot of questions and listen more than you talk.
3. Calendar your family time.
You make time for that which is important.
If I place my family on my calendar then I can say “no” to the things that will try to push them out. If it’s on my calendar then I am booked and I will be there.
I learned a long time ago that either I control my calendar or it controls me. The urgent will always push out the important. Make standing appointments with your family and keep them.
4. Be careful with your addictions.
Addictions are a form of idolatry and will kill the things you love. They are always a way to escape the present reality.
I’m not just talking about the more devastating addictions like drugs, alcohol or pornography. I’m talking also about the things you really love to do and if you’re not careful you will devote most of your time to those things to the detriment of the things you should be doing.
I love to read. Reading is a fairly harmless addiction. However, I could spend my life with my head in a book and miss the more important things — like my family.
5. Spend time with Jesus.
When you spend time with Jesus he will gently convict you of all your idols and all your compulsions and all your obsessions. He will gently teach you how to live in the present.
Jesus will rub off on you — if you spend time with him.
It’s not easy to live in the present. We are, by nature, creatures consumed with the past and the future. I hope these practical steps will help you on your journey to the PRESENT.