I have no idea what the future holds for me. I know you don’t either (and if you think you do, you’re deluding yourself), but I really, really don’t. My career path could go in about 6 different directions at the moment, and those are only the paths I can see. I live acutely aware of the fact that I am one phone call away, at any moment, from having my entire life changed. I know you are, too. We all are.
Though we never truly know what lies ahead of us, there are some days where we are more acutely aware of the fact. For me, these days can be absolutely paralyzing. I mean, if I don’t know where I’m going, how do I start? What am I supposed to be DOING right now?
These are the days most likely to be wasted by all of us, and we tend to do this in a few different ways: Circle, Wait, or Fix:
- Circle: We don’t know where we’re going, so we just start running…only to have to backtrack, circle around, restart. We know we don’t know what we’re doing, so every effort is timid and half-way, but as a child with a skinned knee will run in circles to distract himself from the pain, we too will often just start running without thinking, without feeling.
- Wait. As Dr. Seuss calls it, “The Waiting Place: a Most Useless Space.” Just waiting for something to happen to us – this can take a lifetime. All of our actions depend on someone else, so anything rocks our world and can have a dangerous degree of influence on our decisions.
- Fix. We don’t know where we’re going, but we know we don’t like it here, so that must mean we need to find something to fix…NOW! We start noticing imperfections in our house, our spouses, ourselves. We start reacting to these irritants, which only reveal more. We end the day exhausted, unfulfilled, and discontent.
I refuse to do any of those things today, even as clueless as I am. I know that today is not the day to make any major decisions, start running down any new paths, or solve any of life’s major problems. I just don’t have it in me.
Today is going to be a Productive Presence Day. Due to the very fact that I can’t see the future, I am enabled to more clearly appreciate the present, and react accordingly.
So how do we get the most out of a Presence Day? Love, Listen, and Learn.
- Love: No matter what our circumstances, no moment spent loving is ever wasted. Loving who and what is in front of us: our neighbor, our God, our family, ourselves, is the best way to seize the day we are given. No clarity needed.
- Listen: When we don’t know the answers, that’s a great time to shut up. For those of us who find it hard to stay quiet and listen to the wisdom, needs, or even seemingly trivial details of another, these days are a perfect way to start. Maybe soon we’ll learn to hear the Still Quiet Voice that has the real answers.
- Learn: While many actions may be wasted if done down the wrong path, learning is not one of them. Today may just be the day we have the patience to learn about the unknown now that we have the humility to recognize what we don’t know.
By practicing presence in this way, we have no fear of tomorrow, or any chance of wasting today. But the greatest benefit of living in the present? Making ourselves aware of, and grateful for, the gifts around us- and that is a fundamental part of what’s called “abiding in God.” And when we do that, everything else is taken care of:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
God is continually asking us to abide in His love, lie down in green pastures, be still and know. Sounds pretty good on a day like today, doesn’t it? And what happens when we do this for a while? Look at the promise:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)
So today, let’s all just abide; loving, learning, and listening all the while, knowing that if we do this, we will be preparing ourselves for the wondrous answers that reveal themselves at exactly the right time.
Enjoy today- that’s all we have to do.