As I started meditating about writing on this topic, a song immediately came to my mind, “One day at a time”, the version by Cristy Lane. “Yesterday is gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine. Lord help me today, show me the way, one day at a time”. We all need to live life one day at a time. Just as the Bible has always enjoined us not to dwell on the past, it also teaches us not to be overly concerned about the future. However, our nature is to generally get bogged down by our past mistakes, misfortunes that are long past, embarrassments, and abuses that happened a long time ago. While we can learn from events of our past, the word of God for us is for us to make sure that we do not become prisoners of our past. God’s declaration in Isaiah 43:18 is “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” Similarly, our Lord Jesus Christ enjoined us not to worry about the future. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34. If we are not to get bogged down by the past and not worry about the future, then we are left to live our lives to the fullest in the present.
One saying attributed to a professor of Philosophy at Harvard, George Santayana, says “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. In essence, the idea is not to forget the past completely, but when we remember the past, we only do so to the extent it helps us to learn from the situation so that we do not repeat the mistakes again. As children of God we are also asked to live our lives in hope. The hope of a better tomorrow. The hope of eternal life. However, while we live in hope for a better tomorrow we must not worry about tomorrow. The idea is that we live a balanced life. While we learn from our past, we must be able to continue living in faith and in hope without worrying about what tomorrow will bring. In essence, we must live in the present. So, when we think, we must think about the present.
When we focus on the bad things that had happened to us in the past, we tend to forget that to get here we must have overcome all of them and God in His infinite mercies has brought us to the present. Also, in worrying so much about the future, we forget to enjoy the grace that God has given us for the present. The people of Israel, for example were great grumblers (Exodus 16). They grumbled because they did not have pots of meat to eat again like they used to do in Israel. They had forgotten that while they were eating that meat, they still yearned for a way out of their situation. So, they grumbled about the meat in the past instead of enjoying and being thankful of their freedom in the present. Many times, we so much romanticize a past that was not fulfilling at the time that we forget to enjoy the blessings of the present. We either look at the past with rose-colored glasses or with glasses that so removes the light completely that we are only left with the gloomy part of our past. We either remember things as better than they really were, or we remember them as gloomier than they really were. Rather than fall into these problems, why don’t we just live in the present? Remembering the past can be good and educational, but not if it means ignoring the present.
In our thoughts we must drown our past and dull our fears. Even with this Covid-19, many of us are fearful. The truth is today, many of us do not have Covid-19. Why don’t we live life to the fullest today and let God take care of what happens tomorrow? The present moment is all we have because yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may not even be ours. We must live faithfully here and now and use this time that the Lord has given us to work for his glory. We cannot afford to be wrapped up in some gloomy things that happened in the past or some over-romanticized event of the past that we forget to redeem our time in this present time. While we are at home all cooped in, there are people out there who do not have food to eat. There are people out there who only need to hear I love you over the phone. There are people out there who this Covid-19 thing has thrown a curve ball at. Are you in a position to help? What can you do to help? Are you doing all you can do? Think of those things. Leave the past to the past and let tomorrow take of itself, you have enough to think about the present. That is what God wants us to think about. When we live the life God wants us to live in this present time, we are inevitably living for a future of eternity with Him. – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya