Why It’s Hard to Live in the Moment

I remember growing up, sitting at the dinner table with my brother and my parents, listening to and watching my parents.  They had pencil and paper and were planning, dreaming about the future.  They spoke about things they wanted to save for and projects they wanted to tackle.  My parents would talk about building an addition on our house, make drawings of the deck they wished for and consider the cars they would buy.  I recall the mounting excitement as we considered what the future might hold.

There were many-a-nights at that same dining table we reminisced about fun and emotional stories from the past.  I’m not sure how many times my dad would tell us the story of the skunk that lived under his house when he was growing up and how his brother and sisters would go to school and smell like a polecat.  I didn’t actually know what a polecat was but it was funny every time he told the story.

There’s something appealing about planning for the future and looking back on the past.  Whether that’s a pleasant experience or one that stirs anxiety in our hearts, both become a magnet for our thoughts.  Though it isn’t wrong to dream of the future or be nostalgic about the past, we have to be careful not to ignore the present.

Ann Voskamp said this in her devotional One Thousand Gifts,

“The mind would rather fret about the future or pine over the past–so the mind can cling to its own illusion of control.  But the current moment?  It cannot be controlled.  And what a mind can’t control, it tends to discount.  Brush past…over.”

I’m guilty of brushing past this moment because I’m setting my gaze on the future.  I find myself distracted by what I feel I must get done.  I’m trying to grasp at some sense of control.

I mentioned several weeks ago in my post What I Learned from Diego about Letting Go of Control, I felt like God was telling me to let go of control.  So, I did.  I started letting go of control.  You know what happened?  I started seeing God at work.  He started giving me glimpses of the doors He wanted to open and the ways He wanted to move.  So, naturally,  I took that as my cue to step in and do my part.  I always seem to presume that taking charge is my part.

However, look what Scripture says in John 6:29 (Amplified Version)

“Jesus replied, ‘This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger.’]”

That is my part.  To trust, to wait, to slow down.  I want so much to take the wheel from God and move things along.  Isn’t that what I’ve always wanted to do?  Move past the right now so I can carry out the next thing and take credit for it?

Could I possibly take a chance on God, to step back, slow down and let God move?

Do you find yourself in a similar situation?  You yearn for the way things were?  You replay the memories of a happier, easier time?  Maybe it’s not the past that trips you up, but the uncertainty of the future.  You feel compelled to make preparations and secure the outcome.  When all along God is asking for you to be present with Him.  He wants us to slow down, to trust, to rest in Him.

For most of us the sweetness of still almost does us in.  To sit in the quiet and hear the ticking of the clock is melodious for half a second.  Then at that moment, the unfamiliar silence becomes deafening.  We don’t live that life.  We don’t slow ourselves to hear from God.  We don’t still ourselves enough to know what’s next.  Instead, we presume.  What we call lives of faith are really lives of presumption.  We move our thoughts ahead to fixing the problem, controlling the situation and filling the space. 

In resting, in His presence–He guides, He shows Himself.  The rush, the bustle, though it is the music of most of our lives, it often drowns out the refrain God is writing.

Question:   Do you have something to add or some insight you could share about why it’s so hard to live in the moment?  Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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