Today I took a walk and it was really foggy outside. The funny thing about fog is that when you are walking through the fog, you cannot see ahead of you, and you cannot see behind you either. If you turn around to look where you just came from, you cannot see anything except for right where you are at– you can only focus on the present. It reminds me about how we are supposed to focus our attention on the present.
If we focus so much on the past, we are taking our focus off of God, because God is in the here and now. God is in the present, right now, with us, working, clearing the path, preparing us, by our side– He is with us! If we are trying to focus on the past… oh I wish I could have done that better…oh I wish I never did this… why did I do that… how did this happen… you feel so much of a failure and you focus so much attention on the past that you are not allowing your focus to be on God and right now so that good things can happen… so that you can focus on your purpose for now and move ahead.
In the same sense you cannot focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision. It’s okay to plan things out. It’s not okay when you start becoming afraid of what is going to happen. If you start focusing too much attention on the future of all the great things that are going to happen, as well, you take your focus off of God.
C.S. Lewis has a book called “the Screwtape Letters.” Letter 15 talks about the danger of focusing on the past, because God’s not there, and focusing on the future. The future he says, inflames fear and hope. The past is “frozen and no longer flows.” The present, he says, “is all lit up with eternal rays.” Gratitude looks to the past. Love looks to the present. Fear, lust, and ambition looks to the future. As Matthew 6:34 states, we need to not worry about tomorrow because today has enough worries.
God gives us all we need to handle today. We just need to be focused on today to see that. It’s okay to have plans. It’s good to have a vision for your life. We cannot get so involved about what happened in the past (because God has already forgiven us for that) that we don’t focus on the here and now. You cannot get so involved in what God is going to do with you in the future, because you won’t listen then to what He is saying right now. Jeremiah 29:11 gave us the promise. He wants us to have hope and He wants us to have a future.
We need to focus on right now, today, and listen to what He is saying. There are times when we are not going to hear things. There are times when we won’t get the answer we want. If you are confused right now about which direction you are to take in life… if you have decisions you need to make and you prayed about it and you don’t think you’ve gotten enough answers on which way to go, but you know you need to go in a certain direction… it’s okay to take a step forward. God is with you. If it’s the wrong step, you’ll know. You’ll find out. It’s okay to make mistakes. God uses those mistakes to teach us some important lessons.
Don’t focus on the fog in your life. Don’t focus on the past. It’s okay to learn from your mistakes and it’s okay to grow from your mistakes, but don’t focus on the past. At the same time, don’t focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision for your life. It’s okay to have hopes and dreams, but understand that God is in the present- He’s in the here and now and He’s working with you to get to the future. It’s all about your eternal life, not just about this one moment. And so you need to focus on the present, and in the end, no matter what, God is always with you.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
– Matthew 6:34 [NIV]
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
– Jeremiah 29:11 [ESV]