Celebrate the Past, Anticipate the Future, and Embrace the Present
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Yet most people only celebrate what he has done or anticipate what he will do. They fail to see what he is doing now. That’s why we must live for today.
The Bible records what God has done in the past. We read these accounts and celebrate what he has done, of him saving his people from danger and rescuing them from their enemies. We take comfort knowing that our all-powerful (omniscient) God loves us and cares for us.
In the same way we celebrate what he has done for us in our past, of his provision and protection. Through our dark moments he was there. When we didn’t think we could go on, he walked with us. And for those times when the situations of life weighed us down, he lifted us up.
We praise God for what he has done as revealed in Scripture and as experienced in our own lives.
The Bible also records what God promises to do in the future. We look forward to eternity with him in heaven. Yet we also anticipate his provisions for what he will do for us while we’re still here on earth.
Just as people in the Bible placed their hope in their Lord, we do as well. In the same way that he has cared for and protected us in the past, he’ll do so in the future.
A friend once lamented about an elder in our church, “He’s so heavenly minded, that he’s no earthly good.” [Though this hails from Johnny Cash’s 1977 song “No Earthly Good,” it goes back much further to Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr about a century earlier.]
In being so future focused, like this church elder, we can forget the wonder of the present and fail to live in the moment of today.
Just as we can celebrate what God has done for us in the past, we can also wallow in sorrow over our mistakes and missed opportunities. While we want to learn from the past, we shouldn’t let it hold us captive to any shame we might have over what we once did.
Scripture Tells Us to Not Dwell on the Past
Paul writes to the church in Philippi to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). Paul also tells the church in Corinth, reminding them that in Jesus we are a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Much earlier in the Bible, God tells Isaiah and his people to forget what was and don’t dwell in the past. This is because he’s doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:18-19).
We need to embrace each new day for the potential it provides. An inspiring quote attributed to Charles E. Dederich, a reformed alcoholic, is “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
I understand that Alcoholics Anonymous follows this sentiment. Though I don’t drink and never have, I often begin each day with the perspective that fresh potential awaits me.
Some mornings, before I even open my eyes, I encourage myself for the day ahead with the reminder that, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” It sets in motion what happens next.
What I did yesterday—be it good or bad—is in the past. Today presents a new opportunity for me to embrace. I shouldn’t coast on my accomplishments of yesterday anymore then I should be held captive by my disappointments.
Though God’s greatest gift is eternal life through Jesus, another amazing gift is the gift of today. With God’s help, may we strive to seize the day and make the most of it.
Live for today.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.