The three merge into one.
Perhaps you have days like that as well. Days when memories of the past, gifts of the present and hopes of the future unite into one experience, bringing all parts of your life into clear focus. They don’t happen often, but when they do, there appears a sense of well-being and security that brings warmth as a sunbeam peeking out through a cloudy day.
Conventional wisdom admonishes us not to dwell on the past, but hearts often ignore conventional wisdom. Remembering the past can bring joy and thanksgiving to our lives through the thoughts of people, experiences and places that have touched us.
Remembering the past can also remind us how God has moved us through what has been burdensome, strenuous, painful or demanding. “I don't fear pain or failure anymore because I'm too grateful for the pains and failures of my past - they have made me who I am, and most of the good things in my life are a direct result of them in some way” (Scott Derrickson).
God often moves us toward what is and what is to come through the joys and struggles of the past; remembering is good for the soul’s development. Staying there is the mistake.
Today, the sun is bearing down, scorching the earth during an arid Southern summer. Today, though, I am alive with far too many blessings to count. The blasting heat cannot change the fact that today is a new opportunity, a new awakening, a new awareness of the possibilities that it brings. The present comes together with the past to create a deeper newness of the heart, a freshness of the soul that desires both to remember and to live out today the graces that coat my path.
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, NKJV). The decisions of the past are history, but the decision to make this day, the present, count is the product of a life that takes little for granted, that desires to be the comfort to a hurting person, to be the encourager of someone in crisis, to be the salve for someone whose pain is lingering, to be the company for someone who is lonely, to be the affirmer of someone who is doubting.
The potential to use life for good – today – is endless. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” (Maya Angelou). Today, we can all thrive, depending on the choice we make at day’s beginning. In complete awareness that we are not promised tomorrow, the call to make today count is beckoning; we need to heed the call.
Recently, I visited Thurston’s 102-year-old aunt, and yes, I wondered, “Will I live that long? And will I live that well if I live that long?” Not one complaint issued forth from her lips, only words of thanksgiving and interest in others’ lives. She has difficulty hearing and seeing, but joy rings forth from her heart despite these limitations.
What is my future? What is yours? We do not know, nor can we know; what we do know is that life will end. As Louie in “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult says, “Life is fatal; none of us are getting out of here breathing.” Realistically, life is heading toward death. In faith, however, we know that a future with God in eternal paradise is worth the cost of a last breath, a release of the past and the present to a future glorious and everlasting.
As past, present and future come together on singular days, we receive a gift of incalculable worth. We see, for an instant, a life blessed by grace.