Back to the Present

8 Jun

This time of year is full of talk about future, especially for those who are graduating.  You hear these conversations all over the place this time of year, especially at graduation parties: What’s next?  Do you have a job lined up? What’s your five year plan?  These questions rattle around students minds and many do their best to avoid them at all costs. Typically the only people who like being asked about their future are those who have it figured out.

In many respects, talking about the future is exciting: it’s unknown, full of promise and bursting with possibility.  Within the future lies the chance that we may encounter perfection.  It’s no wonder that many of us love to fantasize and romanticize what could be rather than what is.  Our hope gets placed on an ideal and betrays the gift of today, our present reality.  God told us that he is the great I am, not the great I will be.  God promises to show up here and now, not in some distant possibility or hope.  So while dreaming and longing are not inherently bad, and God did his share of casting vision and promise, they can become idols when they replace our living and breathing in the present.  Through the prophet Jeremiah God told the captives in Babylon to settle in, give their children away in marriage, build homes and gardens, and to work for the welfare of the city; he didn’t tell them to spend all their time longing for the future.  CS Lewis puts it best when he says “Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.

As talk of future hopes, dreams and plans (all good things, certainly) bounce around our heads and conversations, let’s keep at least one foot in the present.  As we are faithful to the present, God will lead us into a future that will far exceed our  hopes.

“We cannot think about the future, of course, for the future does not exist: the existence of the future is an article of faith. We can be assured only that, if there is to be a future, the good of it is already implicit in the good things of the present. We do not need to plan or devise a “world of the future”; if we take care of the world of the present, the future will have received full justice from us.”  Wendell Berry

Thoughts?  Comments? Objections? Improvements?  All welcome.

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4 Responses to “Back to the Present”

  1. Eric Parker June 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    So good! I love the C.S. Lewis quote. I love that God is I Am, so reassuring that we don’t need to know where we are going, we just need to know who is steering.

    • visionsixteen June 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Indeed! I think in many ways our longings for things to be better or different are a longing for life to look more as it was created to be, but there is great danger is forsaking the present for an idealistic future. Glad that I’m not steering!

  2. Jeff Vancil June 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Great thoughts! I especially appreciate Wendell Berry’s assertion that our futures are dependent upon our faithfulness in the present. If our today does not reflect our hope for tomorrow, then we are groundless. Assuming on-going faithfulness today, we can boldly dream of a better tomorrow.

    • visionsixteen June 9, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      “People often overestimate what can happen in the short-term and underestimate what can happen in the long-term.” -someone wise (Jeff Vancil!) How can we expect big things in the future if we aren’t faithful with what is right in front of us?

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