The greatest tragedy of human existence is not to live in time, in both senses of that phrase. My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman. p. 8
“Drink in the moment” “Live life to the fullest” and similar trite phrases twist a profound spiritual process into a hedonistic escapism. As if going on a bender or traveling around the world would do it for you.
To truly live in time is the privilege of the few. I am not one of the few... yet.
One by-product of sorrow is an amplified appreciation of joy. Its experience is more deeply felt, less often confused with mirth. Is it because we are more aware of how our previous moments of joy were not free and pure? They couldn’t have been... they still aren't.
We never completely free ourselves from the transitoriness inherent to our temporal existence. Instinctively, we sense that our moment of joy may not be there for long... or again. No guaranteed rain check on a set of people and circumstances converging to recreate the moment.
Is it better to live in the moment or chase a worthy goal? The answer is, "yes"... not to one or the other but to both.
We live in time. We are subject to it and will succumb to it. Peter exhorts us to pass the time of our sojourn (χρόνος - chronos - a space of time) in fear (1Pe 1:17). It is as much about passing through correctly as reaching our destination abundantly prepared for it.
In the simplest terms: the living that we seek is found in a person, not a pursuit... not just any person because, like us, none will be here after a while. What if we find that special person and it turns out to be God, the great, "I AM”? (Ex 3:14) Then we will have tapped into the eternal now... joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Being “tapped in” is essential, but apparently it does not make living joyfully a given. One of the consequences of sin is its obsession with things not present... unhealthy fixations. We look nostalgically to the past or fixedly (with either anticipation or dread) on a point in the future. It is important to cherish memories and to accrue wisdom based on the past, but we can't live in the past... we don't have permission. Goals are nice, but how insipid they will taste if reached without living before we attain them!
Where Is the equilibrium between these concurrently unfolding principles?
It starts with a decision to trust, made in time, before we die… before we waste a life in pursuit of illusory dreams. God gives us that choice. No one escapes the consequences of ignoring the Gospel. We made ourselves unworthy of God, a life, or a future. Yet, a promise of forgiveness and eternal life is offered to us. God the Son wrought redemption for all who would repent and believe in him.
The decision to trust in him unlocks the door to the possibility of true trust in time, moment by moment. It is more than the power of positive thinking or mere wishful thinking. There is a solid foundation for joy. It is not innately a part of us. Jesus is the door… he is also the way.
The Bible is a "need to know" book... complete and perfect for this present life, before we are called away to the next. Yet it reveals the faintest inkling of the totality of who God is, what he wants and what he has set in motion. What is next is largely hidden from our view. Once in his presence, we will be in awe of the things that he plans and does... far beyond what we could have imagined.
We are left to rejoice that he loved us and chose to include us in his plans. He bought us a future. He made us participants of his divine nature. He gifted us with the opportunity to express genuine, volitional love to him.
Truly trusting leads to joy in the victory already won, joy in the assurance that his love has been the underlying motive for everything, joy in his ability to demonstrate it moment by moment, in a particular, personal way.
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isa 32:17)
Peace, stability and hope... right now, in the next now, and in the next, ad infinitum.
May the Lord help us to live in time. May our remaining time be quality time… and thoroughly enjoyed!
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6