As this devotion goes out, an entire year has passed and we’re at the start of a brand-new year – 2017. This is always a strange feeling for me, looking back and taking stock of the year that’s gone by, while at the same time looking ahead and starting to plan and cast my vision to the year ahead. It feels almost as if I find myself in two places at once – the past and the future. I look at the highlights and valleys of a year gone by, the successes, the failures, the lessons learned, and the things I would do differently. But then I also plan and get excited about the new opportunities I can already sense what God has for me in the New Year. Whether I look back or look forward, the fact remains that, as I’m doing that, I’m not living in the present tense – right now, in this moment.
I read an interesting article recently about an interview CBC news had with Chade-Meng Tan, the author of a book called ‘Joy on demand’. Mr Tan speaks about recognizing ‘thin slices of joy’ in our day. He says that it’s not necessarily about the big events that cause us to feel joy, but about the every-day, little moments, which bring us pleasure. This could be something small and unremarkable, such as the first bite of your favourite cheesecake, or the first sip of your morning coffee, stepping from a hot room into an air-conditioned room, or the moment of connection in receiving a text from an old friend. Although these moments last only a few seconds, it’s significant to take note of these, as these moments of joy all add up and encourage one to savour joy, to make joy a habit, and to live in the present.
When I read this article, I was reminded of the today\'s Scripture in Exodus 3:14. God calls Himself ‘I AM’ – present tense. He sees the end from the beginning, and He’s outside of time. And yet, He reveals Himself in the present tense. We tend to dwell on the past quite often. Looking back isn’t a negative thing, as we can learn and glean from past experiences and knowledge, but it shouldn’t be the place we camp at, even when it was good. In the same way, we can plan the future, which is wise to do, but when we’re constantly busy planning for tomorrow, worrying whether things will turn out well, or about what may go wrong, we miss the present – this very moment. Dwelling on yesterday or tomorrow will steal our joy in the present.
I’m encouraged to begin to consciously notice and savour the thin slices of joy along my way in 2017, the little moments that warm my heart, such as a hug from someone I love, coffee and silly chats with a special friend, quiet moments early morning when I hear the birds in my garden starting to sing, a cool shower on a hot day, the fragrance of freshly washed linen when I slip into bed at night. I want to live in the present, even when the present may not feel good. God, who is the ‘I AM’, is with me in the ‘NOW’ moment. His Word says in Isaiah 26:3: ‘You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You’.
God is a present-tense God. If I develop the habit of keeping my mind stayed on Him, His peace will be my portion, no matter what I may face today. He will hold me upright in the present moment when my legs feel shaky. He will whisper “well done” when I’m victorious in the personal struggles no one knows about. He’ll be present in every second of my present tense, and this truth brings me joy, and settles my heart for what I don’t yet know. I’ll savour His presence above all!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You’re an ever-present God, who sees the end from the beginning. Thank You that You never leave my side, and that You care about every moment I live. Please help me not to rush through my life, and miss the beautiful things of every day that You give me to enjoy. I love You, Lord. Amen.
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