Live in the moment! Be present!
I get it. There is little point in imagining a different reality, rehashing past happenings, or worrying about future events, and all we have is this moment to appreciate, enjoy and be grateful for. It’s good advice. But I wonder if we’ve become too focused on the now and have forgotten how to consider how we arrived at this point and wisely anticipate the future.
Do we have blinders on that prevent us from looking at life in a larger context?
Social media outlets are all about this moment. We see what our friends are doing all around the world and post our own activities. Politicians, celebrities, and influencers plug their agendas and raise the support of their followers regularly. It’s all about the now. And more and more people are all about social media.
Our current world situation should remind us that things can change in a hurry. Last year, newspapers were full of Covid, vaccines, school closures and who was or was not wearing masks, and now we read of rising inflation, baby formula shortages, a bear stock market, war and potential food and oil shortages that are disrupting our universe.
To some degree, actions over past years have brought us to where we are today, and the question we should be asking is: What can we do today to prevent similar problems tomorrow? Frankly, I don’t believe government leaders of either party are prepared to answer that question. They seem to be focused on what they can do today to improve their reelection chances. And we fall for it time after time.
God desires us to be grateful for every moment of every day. He wants us to live in the now, but he wants us to do that in context of what he has done in the past and what he may do in the future. For example, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River after forty years in the desert, Joshua, at God’s command, “…set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:9) Those stones would remind the Israelites of what God did. It was context for the future.
Many years later, God said that Israel, whom he had blessed, had “followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” (Jeremiah 2:5b) God put up with it for a long time, but eventually “my people will go into exile for lack of understanding.” (Isaiah 5:13) They had forgotten; they had arrogantly limited their contextual understanding and didn’t believe that Jerusalem would actually be overthrown. They were Israel, God’s chosen people, so surely God would continue to protect them. Many prophets told them otherwise, but they refused to listen.
The U.S. is not Israel, but some think that we are under God’s special protection and blessing. I don’t believe we are and find no biblical basis for that view. In fact, it sounds like the arrogance of Israel before Jerusalem’s downfall. I hope not.
Look to God for wisdom and discernment as you interpret what you see on social media and in the news. Short-term partisanship is baked into news sources and, therefore, our understanding of current events. The extreme right and left, and our focus on the now, are poisoning a healthy political process which will listen to differing opinions without insisting that they are wrong, stupid, or fake news. If you think this only applies to the other party, I recommend that you get out of the oven.
We can be grateful for every day and still understand the context of the world we live in. It takes time and effort to read books and articles that truly inform instead of depending on Twitter. It is difficult to understand perplexing issues, and I make no claim to grasp all of the complexities involved. These days have taught me that long-term consequences of short-term fixes are often unforeseen.
Pray for our leaders to develop unselfish and non-partisan understanding, and for those who influence our leaders to put aside their party affiliation in favor of listening, learning and understanding the larger context. Pray for us all to broaden our contextual understanding of events.
Live in the moment, yes, but recognize the factors that brought us to this moment as best you can, pray for your own discernment, and ask God what you can do to wisely anticipate the future.