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Now: Joy in the Present

Updated: Apr 20, 2023


Someone I follow asked, "Have you ever wished you were alive at certain key moments in history so that you could take a bold stand for truth, freedom, and righteousness when so many didn't? Well, take heart! You are living in one."


I cannot be in the company of someone either personally or professionally when before long the state of affairs of the country or the world is mentioned. I am not sure I would believe anyone who says they haven't been impacted in some way by what has happened in the world since early 2020.


I too admit that some months in the past almost two years have been very depressing, disheartening, and discouraging. I long for better days both past and to come. Surely, these days are wrought with fear, disappointment, and anxiety, why wouldn't we want to bring back the 80's? It was so much better when...

 

"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?'

For it is not wise to ask such questions." Ecclesiastes 7:10

 

One year ago, I wrote my most-read blog of all time. In it, I wrote, "Where you're headed, is more important than what you are leaving behind, and where you're going, is far, far better than where you were." The only way to get to where you are going is one day at a time. God doesn't want us to try to go back (we can't) or look back (we shouldn't ) Remember Lot's wife? He wants us to press on and let Him show us in the now the possibilities of our future.


I heard a story of a man who was very wealthy yet spent his time and resources helping others both in America and abroad. He had an unquestionable, undeniable spirit of joy about him. When asked why he exclaimed, "Because today is going to be the best day of my life!" Wow. Do you believe in a God that could make every day of your life the best day of your life regardless of the time of life you're in?


Every age has its light and dark side; the past was not wholly light, and the present is not wholly dark. In our humanness, we hurry the present to get to someday while simultaneously wishing it was ten years ago when life was better. Sure, ten years ago I fit into smaller jeans, but I was struggling financially. Today my jeans size is bigger, but so is my bank account. I am using silly examples, but you get my point. If we sit and compare and contrast the past to now - we will find both good and bad.


Now is good.

Now is all we have.

Now is where God is.


God calls us to serve Him in the current moment. Psalm 118:24 encourages "This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." When we can stay in every moment, we truly do find joy. Ann Voskamp says it like this, "When we give thanks for this moment, we stay in this moment... with I AM, the God who is here."


It has been said that the "good ole days" are a combination of a bad memory and a good imagination. When times are difficult it is easy to long for better days gone by. But yesterday is past and cannot be changed and tomorrow may not come so relish the moment you're in. Rejoice and be glad about here and now. This doesn't mean we shouldn't learn from the past or that we are not prepared for the future because both are important. But we should live today in the will of God and not be paralyzed by the past or hypnotized by tomorrow.


Earlier in Ecclesiastes, Solomon gives us advice on how to stay in the present and enjoy each day...

 

After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, MSG

 

Here are five ways to experience joy in the present: (click on the links to read the whole blog on that topic).


Windshield mentality subscribes to the belief that "No matter what's behind us in the rearview mirror, it's always about what's next". Use this idea to serve not only as a guiding principle but a tactical approach. Learn from but do not dwell on the past, and in so doing, you will stay sharp, execution-focused, and goal-driven.


Gratitude is not just a nice addition to a generally good character. It is indispensable to Christian character. Gratitude is the highest duty of the believer and the supreme virtue, the fountain from which all other blessings flow. Ingratitude is the leprosy of the soul. It eats away on the inside, destroys our happiness in relationships, cripples our joy, withers our compassion, paralyzes our praise, and renders us numb to all the blessings of God.


"Be still” is translated as cease striving, calm down, stop fighting, reeeeelaaaaaaxxx.

"Be silent" means to hold your peace, do nothing, and remain at rest.

"Rest" equates to HUSH!, be silent; do not murmur; make no complaint.


There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence that the Lord is near, not only to hear our cry for help but also able to provide help and strength. You're never closer to Jesus than when you are coming to him in prayer. Prayer is the way by which God helps us to overcome our anxiety and worry. Prayer is the perfect antidote to anxiety, worship erases worry.


While we are working on our achievements, God is working on us in the waiting room. The waiting room is a place of preparation. It's where God molds and grows our maturity, our faith, and our resilience. We are not waiting on God in the waiting room, he is waiting on us to grow up. He will not give us the things we are in a hurry for until He knows we are ready to receive them and we have the character and trust in Him to sustain them


Every day contains so many, many blessings. Each November, the season of gratitude, I keep a gratitude list (I know you're asking "Why do you only do this one month of the year?" Great question!) There are many ways to do this but I have always loved Ann Voskamp's November Joy Dare. She says, "All the research concludes that if you write down just 3 things you’re grateful for every day, you increase your happiness by 25%! Who doesn’t want that? And giving thanks in all things is a God-command for our joy." And where does God deal out joy? In the present.


Join me? I'd love to hear in the comments, how you've chosen to participate.




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Wonderful post. God bless.

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mjlmrussell
mjlmrussell
04 nov. 2021

Thank you for sharing from your heart Ami! I too started a gratitude/prayer journal for November. In the times that we live in it’s so needed right now more than ever! If we all serve from a heart like this, imagine the impact we can make on other peoples lives around us! I pray Gods amazing love and peace over you. ♥️

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