Many people live in the past. Some long for the glory days while others staunchly resist any change. Other people live planning for the future and focus is on “what ifs” or on maneuvering towards goals. Remembering the past and learning its lessons is healthy just like planning for the future is wise. Yet, dwelling in the past causes stagnation, and being obsessed with the future leads to missed opportunity. A balance must exist, but in many cases the past seems to fade into the future with barely a glimpse at the present.
In the sense of living only for the moment, focusing on the present becomes a dangerous thought pattern. When learning from the past is ignored and planning at least to some extent for the future is neglected for the sake of the moment, a dangerous self-centered pattern of behavior is allowed to grow. But when living in the now involves applying lessons learned from past mistakes along with using possible future destinations (goals) as a tool for guidance and direction, the present becomes an exciting time filled with ministry that “makes the most of every opportunity” presented.
Focusing on the now allows for creating memories that enhance the past and create excitement for the future. We can be motivated by the goal and guided by the past but focus on the moment. When we have a healthy balance among the past, present and future, we become able to live in the now in a way that keeps us prepared for the opportunities that God sends our way for ministry.
We can choose to let the past consume us with fear of change, and we can let the future cloud our vision of the present as we constantly plan and look ahead. We can also choose to live in the now being guided by the past and motivated by the future. The following 5 principles encourage balance to happen in a way that allows us to seize the ministry opportunities presented every day without letting our free will constantly put up obstacles.
- Give relationships priority. We shouldn’t push people away because they are inconvenient. The “out of sight, out of mind” approach is not meant for people. We need to love as Jesus would love. The Holy Spirit leads us daily to people who need ministry in some way, and living in the now allows us to see and to act on those opportunities.
- Determine not to give up too quickly. In John 14:12, Jesus tells us that we can do “greater things” than He did. So why aren’t we? We often give up too quickly. Be determined to live in the opportunities God gives. Push through, even if that means (as it often does) simply persevering for today – for the now – and not focusing on the difficult road ahead.
- Discipline free will. God never permits sin. Deliberate sin always hurts His heart. Yet, while he does not give us permission to sin, He does allow for our free will to make our own choices. Using the past as a guide and the future as motivation, our free-will choices can create a now that is productive and pleasing to God.
- Understand that people are afraid. As opportunities to minister arise, we must understand that people can be very afraid when they experience the anointing. Rejection is often a giving in to these consuming fears rather than a rejection of us. For this reason, we need be ready to minister over the long haul. Take the opportunities in the now to minister into lives with the knowledge that a long future of patience likely lies ahead.
- Pursue simplicity. Distractions abound to draw our attention from the present. Frustrations and over-commitment steal our focus causing us to fail to enjoy living in the now, and life quickly becomes complicated. Focusing on simplifying life allows for us to feel unencumbered to take the opportunities God sends our way.
As we learn to focus more on now and not what we plan to do or what will be, we begin to realize that compassion and ministry are very tangible. We realize that we can always do more with the gifts God has given us, and that we always have an opportunity to share Him with others. Living in the now allows us to show Christ in us through actions instead of just words. When we live in the now, we see more of the opportunities he gives us for ministry, and we begin to fulfill His will for us as disciples who “go into all the world.” (Mark 16:15)