The kind of time travel we see in the movies or read about in books remains, as of today, impossible. However, many people still spend much of their time dwelling in the past or focused on the future. Unfortunately, they do so at the expense of the present.
Yet, God encourages us away from this type of mental time travel and gives specific instructions for making the most of the present.
“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, AMP)
These verses in Isaiah give five pieces of advice on how to balance our past, present, and future.
- Don’t purposefully or intentionally give serious attention to the past. Earnestness involves purposefulness, intentionality, and seriousness. Isaiah directs us to let memories surface and acknowledge them when they do but avoid lingering in the past and certainly dwelling there on purpose.
- Make a point to observe God’s current activity. Isaiah says to “behold,” which means observe, regard, gaze upon, view, watch, and discern. In other words, notice the “new thing” God promises to do. So often, we fail to see God’s current activity because of our focus on what happened or on what might happen.
- Identify and acknowledge what you observe. Start by observing God’s activity but move on to becoming aware of it to the point of naming it in a way that amplifies His presence. Acknowledging often forces action.
- Give careful attention to what He’s doing. Now comes committing because “giving heed” requires focus. No longer can our attention be divided. God’s activity now becomes the center of our thoughts as it gains our careful attention.
- Get ready to see the impossible happen. Once you see, acknowledge, and focus on God’s activity, you gain a sense of direction of where He’s going. You may not know specific details, and His plans likely seem impossible, but never forget that God masterfully authors the impossible.
Just like altering the past in many time travel stories results in severe and unexpected consequences, traveling through time in our thinking – dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future – also involves consequences. Namely, we miss out on being happy and doing good (Ecclesiastes 3:12) and on taking hold and making the most of opportunities presented to us (Ephesians 5:16).
Dwelling on the past and obsessing about the future takes our focus off God’s promises. Instead, let the past live as applied present lessons, and allow the future to exist as today’s motivation. Focus on God’s plan for the present and the role He wants you to play as you move toward eternity with Him.