I’ve learned something lately.
No duh. Who hasn’t, you might say. Hey thanks. But I choose to ignore literalists.
If you are in one place, you better stay there and stay put and live in the present. Now, when people say “live in the present” they can mean different things. Sometimes I think people mean: Well, learn to appreciate what is around you. Notice that you have friends. Notice that the sun is setting. Be aware of where you are and don’t take it for granted. This is not what I mean. What I mean is illustrated best by a definition of living in the future: Not being able to wait until you get home for Christmas Break, or the next time you leave this town, or the next time you can see some daylight from exam studying. You know, the general hoping for better circumstances. I suppose this also mandates a definition of living in the past, which I also tend to do: Bathing and reveling in memory of better times. I love the summer. I think about it often. Perhaps too much. This living in the past occurs when I sit at my computer for an hour and sift through photos from good times in the past. And I have a lot of photos. Or facebook. Or drawing pictures in my notebooks. It also begs the question: when will it be like this again? This is anything but living in the present.
I think God can get jealous because of thoughts like these. I think that’s why I would describe some of my past month as rather gloomy or miserable. Not entirely because of this. I’ve done many dumb things additionally. I probably deserved a terrible month. But it has to be one of the reasons. Its not to say that I have had poor quiet times this month. I am finding out the power, and the reality, of coming before the Lord every single morning, asking him to guide your steps, to build up your armor for spiritual attack, and to help you acknowledge him in all decisions. It works. It so works. And when I don’t, I can almost gaurantee you that I will fall into temptation that day. Or else I will be taught a hard lesson. Here’s a quote about that:
“The morning is the gate of the day and it should be well guarded
with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the days actions are
strung and should be well knotted with devotion. If we felt the
majesty of life we would be more careful of it’s mornings. He who
rushes from his bed to his business and waiteth not to worship is as
foolish as though he had not put on his clothes or cleansed his face
and is unwise as though he had dashed into battle without arms or
armour. Be it ours to bathe in the soft flowing river of communion
with God before the heat of the wilderness and the burden of the way
begins to oppress.”
– Charles Spurgeon
But sometimes, even with QT’s, I find hard times and dissapointment. This is the reality of the christian life. It has to be. Jesus is not a ticket to happy feelings, sunshine and flowers. Of course things will still be hard. They are workouts. They are an exercising of your spiritual lungs. And as such, they are an opportunity for us to worship the Lord even in the hard times. I am terrible at this. But I know its what I should be doing. The thing about these hard times is that they aren’t bringing us immediate comfort. They aren’t matching up with what we are dreaming about. They aren’t on our agenda. But they will bring joy, I believe. In the long run, we will be better because of dissapointment. And our calling, then, is to be a people who perserve and run the race well, even when it takes unexpected turns or uphill climbs. I just have to keep running.
So what is living in the present then? It is putting away your phone. It is not constantly looking for a text message. It is refusing to be a slave to facebook. It is not being a conversational narcissist, always seeking attention or trying to tell your story of “oh yeah, one time me and my friends…”. It is being involved in other people’s lives. It is asking them how their day went. It is meditating on scripture. It is seeing God in the day to day things. It is being happy to be where you are. But more than a simple “appreciation” of your present life. It is an active doing. It is knowing where you are, and squeezing into it more than you think you can. It is a call to devote your thoughts to God, and to trust that when you can’t be somewhere for someone you think needs you there, to let it go to God’s timing. If we really believe in God’s timing, then sometimes He is going to have to say no. Stay put. Don’t drive there. I am deciding your fate, that is not your job. And likewise, it is not being offended when people can’t come to you. It is not being let down or hurt when it seems like people can’t make it to something you’d say is really important to you. It is being ok with people’s busy schedules and their unavailability. It’s nothing personal, so let’s not take it that way.
See, I really like to seize the day. I love it. It’s one of my favorite things to do. For example, last night at Drew and Neil’s house, we were sitting on their porch with a couple of beers. And someone asked them if they knew the girls who lived next door. With a touch of embarassment, they answered “No, we’ve never gone over there.” And I said: “You live in a house full of guys. They live in a house full of girls. Do you see a problem with this?” Yes. There was a problem. So we all got up, convincing ourselves this must be done, it must, there are no two ways about it, tonight was the night, and we walked over and knocked on their door and met them. That is what men do, by the way. It is their job to go to the women. No more of this embarassment. It’s only holding us back.
So when things aren’t going your way, just know that if you have the Lord, it is not without reason. And its a reason that you know is good, one that you can bank on. Isn’t there assurance in that? Shouldn’t that relieve some stress? I suppose its still not fun, because you can’t be where you want to be. But something I think I want to ask God for is: actually wanting what he wants, not just pretending like I do or knowing that I should. But hey, actually wanting to stay at school and finish exams well and helping people with their problems and perservering through crazy schedules and all. That’s what I want to want. Right now I don’t want it. But maybe someday.
Also of note, I have been having even more realistic dreams than usual lately. They are sort of scary how relevant they are to my life. Of course, everyone’s dreams are always based in somewhat of your present day reality. My hamster Elvis often appeared when she was alive, for example. But these dreams are highlighting my worries and anxieties. I know they are. They must be bringing my subconscious desires to the surface. Dreams, I heard a professor once say, are like dropping a fishing line down into the dark pond of your subconscious mind. You most likely won’t like what you fish out. Its true. Some of my dreams aren’t good. But maybe it’s good to know how messed up I am, and what I am afraid of happening, so that I can move on from there.
It’s fricking December. Finally.