Having a Balanced Focus
Many people live in the past. Some long for the glory days while others staunchly resist any change. Others live planning for the future and focusing on “what ifs.”
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 opportunities, usually those involving relationships.
Balance must exist.
Instead, the past too often fades into the future with barely a glimpse at the present. At the same time, living only for the moment can become a dangerous thought pattern. When learning from the past and planning for the future are ignored, a dangerous self-centered pattern of behavior tends to grow.
But when living in the now involves applying lessons learned from the past along with using possible future destinations as tools for guidance, the present becomes an exciting time filled with ministry. It allows you to live what Paul writes about in Ephesians 5:15-16.
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Focusing on the now allows for creating memories that enhance the past and create excitement for the future. We become motivated by the goal and guided by the past while at the same time remaining focused on the moment.
We can choose to let the past consume us with fear of change. Or, we can let the future cloud our vision of the present as we constantly gaze into the distance.
A better option? Choose to live in the now, being guided by the past and motivated by the future.
The following 5 principles encourage that balance to happen in a way that helps us seize opportunities presented every day without letting our free will constantly put up obstacles from our past or our imaginations.
- Give relationships priority. We shouldn’t push people away because they don’t fit into our schedule. We need to love as Jesus loved, and he made time for the people placed in his daily activity. Living in the now allows us to see and to act on the opportunities presented to us.
- Determine not to give up too quickly. Jesus tells us that we can do “greater things” than He did (John 14:12). So why aren’t we? Perhaps it’s because we often give up too quickly. Determine to push through even if that means simply persevering for the day in front of you.
- Discipline your free will. God never permits sin. Deliberate sin always hurts His heart. And 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, disciplined free-will creates a productive now that is pleasing to God.
- Understand that people are afraid. As opportunities to minister arise, we must understand that how fear drives people. Rejection is often a person giving in to all-consuming fears rather than a rejection of us. For this reason, be ready to minister over the long haul. Take the opportunities in the now knowing the road is paved with perseverance.
- 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. Focus on simplifying life and discover an unencumbered life able to take the opportunities God presents.
As we learn to focus on the now and not just on what we plan to do or what will be, we begin to realize that compassion and ministry are very tangible. We realize we can always do more with the gifts God gave us.
Living in the now allows us to show Christ in us more through actions instead of just with 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.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)