|A tourist posing for a photo beside a crocodile was bitten on the leg, according to this morning’s Associated Press. Mariah Carey is still in the news after she tried to lip-sync her New Year’s Eve concert but couldn’t hear the music and stopped singing.
What do these women have in common? Both are facing ridicule in the news today. And both can decide whether to let what is now their past define their future. So can we.
The problem is, we live in a culture that is fixated on yesterday and tomorrow. Guilt over the past afflicts us in the present. We love new year’s predictions. We even have a month dedicated to this obsession.
“January” is named for the Roman god Janus. He is depicted in ancient mythology with two faces, one able to see the past and the other able to peer into the future.
But Janus is a liar. He can see neither yesterday nor tomorrow because neither is real.
How much does “yesterday” weigh? What color is “tomorrow”? Both are just words, not realities. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Today is the only day there is. This moment is the only moment that is real.
That’s why our Lord called himself “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). Helen Mallicoat said it well:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking: My name is I Am.
When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I Was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I Will Be.
When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here.
My name is I Am.
All of God there is is in this moment.
Here’s why this fact matters: God can help us only with what exists. He can’t help us with Martians because they’re not real. If we choose to live in the past or the future, we’re on our own. But if we’ll learn to live in the present, we’ll find God’s power and providence ready to make us all God wants us to be.
So how do we live in the present this year? How do we experience God’s best today?
First, give your past guilt to God’s grace. If something in the past is bothering your soul, confess it specifically to your Father. Claim the fact that he forgives all we confess (1 John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). Then, the next time guilt attacks, say to it: “I have confessed that and am forgiven, and grace is greater than guilt.” Say it every time: “Grace is greater than guilt.” And you will experience the peace of grace.
Second, give your future fears to God by faith. Name what worries you today. Place it in God’s hands and ask him to be King of this fear. Then, whenever the fear comes back, say to it: “I trusted that to God, and faith is greater than fear.” Say it every time the fear attacks, and you will know the peace of faith.
Third, start every day by giving it to Jesus. Surrender the only day there is to the only Lord there is. And your peace and serenity will be a striking witness to a guilt-driven, fear-wracked culture.
No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.