Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Living in the now


"There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.

"What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond by giving. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (Matthew 6: 26, 32, 34; The Message Bible)

By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

The name Sir William Osler may not strike a chord with most people, but he is considered the father of modern medicine. A Canadian physician (1849-1919) and one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Osler was the first person to promote the concept of a residency program for specialized training of physicians. He was a person of many interests and also widely respected as a historian, author, and lecturer.

When asked the secret to his success, Osler responded, "Live in day-tight compartments. This strategy closes the door upon yesterday and refuses to open in advance the one leading to tomorrow."

From his answer it is clear that Osler knew as much about the teachings of Jesus as he did about medicine. Initially, his intention was to become an Anglican pastor like his father. Although medicine lured him away from ministry, it is evident he was grounded in New Testament theology.

His viewpoint reflected a lesson taught some 2,000 years earlier, an important part of the great sermon Jesus preached on a mountainside to people who were consumed with worry and fear. Perhaps today you characterize that audience.

Jesus knew the quest for things creates anxiety. The search places heavy burdens on people. Yet you cannot find meaning in life and serve God when you are preoccupied with getting. Instead, Jesus commands, do not worry about tomorrow. He invites you to live one day at a time.

Easier said than done!

As we bid farewell to 2013, the best advice I can pass on to you in this first column of 2014 is to live in the now!

Too many people also are incapable of living in the now because they are unable to let go of yesterday. They long have hidden behind "what might have been." Thus they never get to what might be!

In this time of turning the calendar page, it is crucial to let go of those thoughts. Discard "if only such-and-such had happened" and embrace the present, the today of your life. Stop grieving over what is lost to the past. Those things are gone; let them go. Remember the good in them, and thank God for the experience.

Great reward comes as you press ahead now with God. Tremendous spiritual strength empowers those who are determined to take what is at hand today and fashion something good with it, those who are willing to live today unafraid of tomorrow.

Live confidently into this New Year. I invite you to recall those words Jesus preached, reminding you that God not only knows your needs, but also will provide the necessities of life.

Fear of the future swells in proportion to lack of faith in God. If you truly trust in God, it’s possible for you to live in the now. If your belief in God is built on a shaky foundation here at the dawning of 2014, so will your confidence be amid the uncertainties of the coming months.

Life is always vibrant when it is lived in the Great Now.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the renowned American essayist, enthusiastically proclaimed his discovery of this: "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of your year!"

The Psalmist declares it best: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24)


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