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Living In the Present—For the Future

“Wait.” “Now is the time…now is the day.” -Acts 1:4, I Corinthians 6:2

Do you remember the Fram oil filter commercial.  A mechanic tells about a major repair job on a car, and suggests that if the owner had spent a little more on a Fram filter it could have been avoided.  And then, he holds up a filter and utters the ultimate advertising wisdom, “Pay me now or pay me later.”

It is a classic human dilemma—tension between having it now or later, living for the present or the future.  For almost all of our early lives, there is someone telling us to wait for something:

            wait until you’re old enough to go to school
            wait until you’re in High School
            wait until you’re married
            wait until you’re through with your education
            wait until you have a good job
            wait until you have some security to get married

There are right and wrong times to wait.  Some years ago this story appeared in Reader’s Digest:

 An Air Force TAIL-GUNNER was being court-martialed.  “What did you hear in your headset?” demanded a superior officer.  “Well,” replied the airman, “I heard my squadron leader holler, ‘Enemy planes at five o’clock!'”  “What action did you take?”  persisted another officer.  “Why, sir,” replied the gunner, “I just sat back and waited.  It was only 4:30.”

There are some people who live their whole lives in the waiting mode.  They never seem to “experience life.”  Totally goal oriented, so much so that when they get there, satisfaction, fulfillment seems to allude them.

On the other hand, there are competing voices saying do it now.  Our desires often want it now, want immediate gratification.  Our environment, advertising says, “Have it now, buy now, pay later.”  “Grab all the gusto you can.”

When life is lived on this basis—pursuit of immediate gratification, we are robbed of the most important things in life, like character, meaning, joy.  These things only come with time.

Some might suggest that this is a non-issue from a Christian perspective.  All Christian living is future oriented, is lived for future results/rewards.  And in one sense that is true but it is short of the whole truth.  You will find both “wait” and “now” in the Bible: 

The problem is that we are inclined to want to put off what we ought to do now and to want now what can only come in time.  How can we live making the most of the present but also building for the future?

Know that life as God intends it is both an experience to be appreciated/ enjoyed/ lived now and a goal, destination to be anticipated.  The living now and the future are part of the same parcel.  The secret is trusting God and living with sensitivity to God’s timing.


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