The importance of living in the present

One day I talked with a man in the sunset years of life.  He reminisced about the past, how good life had been, and lamented how the present generation is hopeless.

A few days later I talked with a young person who had graduated from high school and eagerly looked forward to entering college.  He said the summer job would be boring.

Too much of our living is done in the past or in the future while we neglect the present.  Some wise person said, “Yesterday is a canceled check and tomorrow is a promissory note—only today is cash at hand for us to spend.”

Life’s arithmetic is simple: every addition is also a subtraction.  When we add a year to those we’ve already lived, we subtract one from the remaining years.  Although we should plan for the future, there is a sense of urgency to do our best today, but we often wait too long getting involved in some of the essentials of life.

We wait too long to discipline ourselves and take charge of our habits.  We think there’s plenty of time to uproot those bad habits hindering our mental and spiritual growth.  With each passing day those bad habits become more difficult to uproot.

We wait too long to show kindness.  F. Scott Fitzgerald, the laureate of the “lost generation” created by World War One, wrote to a friend in a time of sadness, “Pray, do write to me.  A few lines soon are better than a three-decker novel a month hence.”  

We wait too long to speak words of forgiveness, to set aside hatreds, to express thanks, to give encouragement, to offer comfort.

We wait too long to be charitable.  Too much of our giving is delayed until the need has passed, and the joy of giving has diminished.

We wait too long to be parents to our children.  Life swiftly urges them on and there’s only a brief time in which they are children.  Who know how soon it will be too late?

We wait too long to read the books, listen to the music, and to see the great works of art, which would enlarge our minds, enrich our spirits, and expand our souls.

Today is the best day of the rest of your life; it’s also the best time to make a new start.  Make the best of every minute and hour.  Do all that you can today and don’t worry about what you didn’t get done—it will be there tomorrow.

Here is a truth we should remember as we greet each new day: “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad it in it” (Psalm 118:24).  This truth gives strength for living every day of your life.

 — Jerry Burnaman is pastor  of Grays Prairie Missionary Baptist Church


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