With happy expectation, I sat down to enjoy a bowl of Sticky-Bun flavored Ice-cream.
Between bits of conversations and the distraction of the television, it wasn’t until the last bite that it dawned on me that I couldn’t even remember having tasted any of it. With regret, I looked into my empty bowl and wondered what had happened to my moment.
All of us have the same 24 hours per day in which to live our lives, and all of us experience the trinity of time in the past, present and future. To varying degrees, and under different circumstances, we all seem to gravitate towards one quadrant of our timeline, and in a sense cheat ourselves of the fullness of life in what is available.
As I reflected on my disappointing experience, I had to admit that I don’t always appreciate the present. I allowed myself to become distracted by competing attentions and lost all ability to enjoy my rare treat for the short time in which it was present. In hindsight, I can also see times during which I have gotten caught up in the struggles of circumstances and missed sharing in the emotions and expressions of my kids.
At other times, I have allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the immediacy of work or other obligations to the detriment of someone else’s pain or perhaps my wife’s particular experience that day. And, ultimately, I think I am the one who loses out on something very precious when I go with the flow and don’t insist on putting a priority on certain experiences. Such loss is especially acute when it involves people who pass through my timeline with barely a dot of recognition on my part.
As I reflect on this human frailty, it seems likely that many of us find ourselves excessively caught up in our past, overwhelmed by the struggles (or pleasures) of the present moment, or forever consumed by lotto-fever in hopes of changing our future. At such times, we are fracturing our timeline—living out of harmony with what God intends for our benefit.
There is a time and place for remembering the past. God even commands it. Reflecting on the past is necessary to avoid repeating mistakes as well as upholding proven and true values during the distractions swirling around us.
The present moment is the only part of my timeline in which I am allowed to make changes—changes that can enhance my awareness of the moment, alter the pattern of my past, as well as impact my future. Perhaps that is why God invites us to rest in Christ, to “sabbath” while it is called Today. Don’t miss the treasures of daily life, relational interactions, and wonders of creation that ought to overwhelm our senses. As the saying goes, remember to stop and smell the roses today.
And, thank God for hope in the future. Pain, loss and tragedy wound us all and could easily drown us in despair if not for our hope in Jesus’ promised intervention. Living with hope in a better future gives us endurance out of the past and through the present.
It is only by insisting on living fully in our timeline, by remembering key parts of our past, identifying fully with the most important contributions in our present, all while persevering because of our tenacious hold on the coming return of our Lord and Savior, that we become capable of gaining the most out of our life.
It is while living fully in our timeline that we come to experience what is meant by living with a timeless God.
Who knew that ice-cream could teach so much. I should make a note to fix myself another bowl sometime soon.
What part of your timeline could benefit the most from changes in your attention?