One of the hardest things about this life we have is figuring out how best to live it. This is especially true as Christians, as a people who live in constant hope of re-creation and redemption, knowing full well that God is always shaping us for more as He works things together for good. We want to constantly be growing into whatever God has for us, but this mindset often leaves us missing out on the moment that we have right now. All of a sudden, we have a life that we're looking back on, sorry that we missed it. And...still missing it because we're already on to preparations for the next thing, whatever it proves to be.
We don't want to miss out on anything that God has for us, so we've always got our eyes open to where this road might lead. What's next? Where does this turn into something different, something bigger, something better? What is God up to? Oh, if only we could answer this question! Then, we would at least know what He's preparing us for and maybe we could figure out what's most important and what we ought to be investing in.
What we often miss, though, is that whatever God has for us next, He has this for us right now. Today is just as much ordained by God as tomorrow. This stepping stone you're on was put here by the same hand that laid the next one. There is no such thing as waiting in the kingdom of God; we are always somewhere along God's path. It's unfortunate that we seldom seem to recognize this.
The trouble is that although maybe we realize that there is something here for us, something we don't want to miss, we also don't want to get comfortable because we know that God is moving us through here to something else. Our lives are in constant motion, and if we grow too comfortable, the risk is that we will stop moving altogether. We'll miss out on what God has next for us if we let ourselves settle in too much here.
Caught in this tension, it often seems that there is no good solution. We either miss out on what God has for us in the present because we're focusing too intently on the future or we miss out on what God has for us in the future because we settle too much into the present. And somehow, no matter which we choose, we end up living most of our lives in the past - either missing what we never engaged with or grieving opportunities we let pass us by.
This is something I think about a lot, probably more than most. (I don't really know why; it's just the kind of thing I'm intimately aware of far more often than I want to be.) But I think all this thinking has finally led me to an understanding of how it is that we engage our past, our present, and our future all at once, living in this moment without losing sight of the next one. Thriving here, but growing still.
The answer is...to learn.
The answer is to take every moment as a learning opportunity and figure out what it is that it can teach you. Figure out how you can grow from it.
Learning is great because it establishes itself on something we already know or believe; it is anchored in our past and in the things that brought us this far. It is engaged in the present moment because this is the only moment that we have to work in; this is the only chance we get at this particular thing in this particular way. So if we're learning, we have no choice but to be fully present to what we're doing right now. But we'll never get this moment again, so anything we learn from it will only come into play sometime in the future, some time when we have an opportunity to put our acquired information or skill to use. Past, present, future all wrapped into a single moment of active learning. You'll never miss this moment because you're fully in it, but you won't stay here, either, because you'll be excited about the opportunity to put to use what you've learned.
So approach life with a curious spirit. Stay engaged by actively growing. Keep your hands busy and your mind engaged and see what life has to teach you. Investing ourselves in learning is the only solution we have for that tension we feel when we're torn between time, trying to figure out how to live this life we've been given. We live today, most fully, by learning, which draws us into tomorrow.