Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. – James 4:13
Maybe you haven’t heard, but our oldest is about to graduate in a few months. People have been asking me since last August how I’m doing with that…you know, have I been curled up in a ball crying like a baby and things like that. So far, the answer is, “No, not yet.”
It’s not that I don’t want to curl up in a ball with a box of Kleenex and a package of Double Stuff Oreos. I mean, what mom could keep a dry eye looking at pictures like these of her baby from the first day of kinder and first day of senior year? None, I tell you. And I’m no exception. It’s just that I’m trying to practice what I preach.
Since we work with teenagers, I know that senioritis hits hard and early. Ask a high school senior in September what they’re worried about, praying about, or excited about, and the answer is, “Next year.” They’re so excited about what’s next that they often fail to recognize what’s right now. So I remind them that God has important plans for today, even when we’re looking forward to something that is ahead.
It’s not just seniors in high school who face the temptation of missing out on what God has planned for today. We all do it. It starts when we’re young. As soon as we stop dreaming about being ballerinas and firemen, we can’t wait until we reach that magical age of 13, and we’re finally a teenager. But we find out pretty fast that 13 is a whole lot like 12, so we we start looking forward to something else – the day we get a driver’s license. After all, that’s where life must really get good. Wrong again. The novelty of driving wears off quickly, and we start thinking about how great life will be when we graduate. After that, it doesn’t take long before we find ourselves longing for new things…getting a job, getting married, and having kids. It doesn’t stop there, either. Even for adults…maybe especially for adults…there’s always something up ahead, even if it’s just Friday, that threatens to steal our focus and, if left unchecked, has the power to prevent us from doing anything meaningful in the here and now
It’s not bad to look forward to things, but life is short, and the key to making the most of it is in looking forward to today more than whatever is up ahead. It is not part of God’s plan to waste any moment, day, month, year, or stage of your life. It is not part of God’s plan for your focus to be on tomorrow, because, truthfully, you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring.
Last week, I was looking through old papers and things I kept for the kids. I ran across an email Abby had sent to friends when she was in the 3rd or 4th grade. It said, “Hey, I set up this email account for fan mail when Emily and me become rock stars. But you can just send stuff to my normal email for now, because this one isn’t very busy yet.” I love that. The girl had some big dreams, and she was making plans for those. But at the same time, she was keeping her feet on the ground. She wasn’t going to throw away her “for now” in favor of what she was certain would one day be.
I don’t know what you have up ahead, but whether it’s something you look forward to or dread, the lesson is the same – God never intends for that thing be your focus today. What He wants, instead, is for you to “Make every minute count.” Eph. 5:16b (CEV)