Monday, January 20, 2020

Life Must Be Lived in The Present


Phil Bell is a retired pastor, University Baptist Church, and a stroke survivor. He continues to write his Street & Steeple articles for his local newspaper. I believe this is good therapy for him, and reading his work may be good therapy for you, too.
Street & Steeple for January 10, 2020 

By Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church

“Life Must Be Lived in The Present”

We are well into the new year. Back in the day when we wrote a lot of checks this would be the time when I’d get frustrated with myself for having too often to having dated the check with the last year, only to scratch out the year and have to replace it with the current one. Maybe you were one of those, also. 

I know people who, the day after a time change, spend the day mentally calculating what the time would have been the previous day. That may explain to themselves why they’re hungry or not, but no matter what time it was yesterday they will be eating by today’s time. 

We do not have the option to live our lives in yesterday or tomorrow, no matter how much we want to. Most or all of you know I suffered a massive stroke just over eight years ago from which I am still paralyzed on my entire left side, unable to walk nor drive a car. Interestingly enough, when I dream it’s usually with my body being whole! In one recurring dream I am driving through a McDonald’s drive thru ordering either a bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit with hash browns, and a small coffee or a breakfast burrito with hot sauce, hash browns, and a small coffee. 

I don’t know if that dream is only of my past or, hopefully, of both my past and my future! What I do know is that my present, in which I live is, regrettably, a whole lot more nutritious. It is either grits, juice, meds, toast, and milk or oatmeal, juice, meds, toast, meds, toast, and milk with me making my own instant grits or oatmeal at home. Actually, that’s not so bad. I can remember, just after my stroke, not being unable to eat at all, with a feeding tube down into my stomach. 

You see, I like my present far better than that past, but not as much as further back when I would drive through McDonalds on my way to my church office! (Please don’t tell my wife, Nancy about that. She doesn’t know that I did it!) Whatever my desire is about the time in which I live, the only option is to live in the present, as is yours. I don’t know what your life is like nor whether you long for the past or for the future or are fearful about it, but I do know that if you’re facing the future without a relationship with Jesus, you have a right to be worried. I don’t just mean whether you’re headed to heaven or hell, but I know He could help you in the present and for the rest of your life. Neither Nancy nor I could get through a day without depending on God to strengthen and provide for us! You can have such a relationship, too. Talk to your pastor or give me a call if you need help. 

Actually the Bible has a good deal to say about living in the present. You may be aware of Ecclesiastes chapter three or remember the sixty’s song by the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn” from which it was taken. Its message is that there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven, meaning to live in the season in which you are. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus says not to be anxious about tomorrow because there is enough evil for today and tomorrow will take care of itself. Way back when God spoke to Abraham, He identified Himself as “Yahweh,” written in Hebrew as “Yhwh, meaning “I am.” I think, not only did He mean I always have been, not a created being, but meant, also, I am the God of the present and at work in the world today! My point is that you and I must embrace the present because that is our only option and where we live. 

I do not mean that you should not try to improve your situation, if possible. For example, I used to love fishing and thought it over after my stroke when I could not hold my rod in my left hand or use that hand to retrieve my lure or fish. However, my son, Andy, found, bought, and gave me a holster which attaches to my power wheelchair beverage holder and fits my rod. Now I can cast, retrieve my lure, get a bite, and reel in my huge catch. Admittedly, my “huge” catch so far has been a size which would not feed a single person without Jesus performing a miracle! 

My point is that you, no matter your situation, can make the most of your present and, with God’s help, thrive. Besides you have no other choice except to be miserable. I know, I’ve been there, but am not miserable now, thanks to God and my wife. In other words, life must be lived in the present, why not make the most of it? 

Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church

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