Raise your hand if you’re guilty of turning your life into a timeline of aheads and agos. Rushing forwards and backwards, we so often wish away the here and now. We say, “In 6 weeks my ankle will be better,” so we place a bright red tack on the path ahead, focussing only on what that promised span will bring. We say, “Well if I wouldn’t have done this or that last month, I wouldn’t be in this situation,” so we waste the moment tracing back and erasing the happy to find the culprit of our current sad. We say, “Had I known I would be here, I would have done so-and-so differently,” so we chalk our current situation up to squandered time. We might as well be scooping handfuls of sand out of our own hour glass and tossing it into the wind.
Sometimes, I wish I had someone to serve me a quick slap in the face and say, “Hey. You are here. Right now, you are here. And that’s what matters.”
Like on a strip mall directory or national park trail map, we are the proverbial X on the page. “You Are Here,” it reminds us. Silly because I know where I am, but that’s not the point, is it? I’m being shown where I am in relation to everything else on my map. Where you are now is vital to where you’re going and what you encounter.
What if someone crossed your path while you were on this Ahead and Ago autopilot today. Whether you were stressing about what to cook for dinner or wishing the end of the semester would spontaneously arrive, you were detached from the present and unable to be an effective encounter for that person. What if you missed an opportunity to minister or to encourage? All because you were to caught up in the binding net of the weeks ahead… or weeks ago.
A long time ago, someone suggested I make a paper chain to track time until a special event. I love having something to look forward to, and I enjoy making benchmarks, but what if I was to cut away those strips of paper day by day, having meaninglessly lived them? Write what was special about that day on each strip of paper. Don’t waste those days. Enjoy moments of sincere eye contact, hold that embrace a second longer, say what needs to be said… Because we aren’t adding sand or paper loops— we are only losing them.
My favorite person once said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Jesus preached a contentment we can only find in Him. So when you find yourself anywhere but here, ask yourself, “Self, why am I not joyful in this moment?” And then be still, invoke trust, look at your map, and rest assured that your X is right where it needs to be— because He placed it there.