For those who have been following our story, the jury is still out regarding whether or not I will have the opportunity to work toward my Ph.D. overseas. The scholarship for which I am most hopeful was just posted and it will probably be another 2-3 months before the process concludes.
In the meantime, there is life to be lived.
My son’s birthday party was yesterday. He turned two. Guy and Jill, Allison’s parents, flew all the way to Spokane from south Mississippi to celebrate with us. In addition, two sets of friends and their kids came to the park where we were having his party. As a dad, I felt so much joy to see my son having a great time on his birthday though we moved so far way from so many people we loved a few weeks ago. And besides experiencing joy, I felt such deep gratitude to the people who came so that my son could have the day that my wife and I envisioned and worked hard to create (I literally do not have the space or time here to mention all that my wife did to make this day special).
The past is gone. The future is not yet. The present, well, that is all that you have to chew on.
What if I don’t win a scholarship? What if it turns out that God does not want me to get my Ph.D.? These would be hard life conclusions for me to swallow, but hey, there are no guarantees. We sense in our heart that it is still what God wants, but for now, the coffee is brewing, a new gospel-home is beginning at River City Church, we are meeting people, our son is growing, I am getting to teach, and the trout are waiting! When I think about Jesus and the life he lived, he was always, simply, wonderfully present. Granted, he knew where he came from and where he was going (John 13:3), but he stood in his sandles, looked at people, and didn’t hang on the cross until he actually arrived. One encounter at a time. One season at a time. One deep breathe at a time. The psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, writes, “In Contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”
What is keeping your from living in the present? A morsel of shame that keeps you trapped in the past? An exciting dream for your future that makes it easy for you to escape the mundaneness of the present? Too much activity? Too little activity? A dating relationship that you know you need to let go of? Mourning a loss in the past that you have yet to grieve? You tell me. What is it? Did Jesus, our wonderful Savior, not say, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Quit looking for fireworks and explosions. A peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich will do fine. Whether it is a worm on your hook or a good book, open your heart to the present and the people around you and find creative ways to love and worship Daddy God and seize every last moment in this season for His kingdom and glory as well as your good. If you waste your present, then your “future” presents will suffer.
And remember, ultimately, this is about Christ. All is spiritual. More of you Lord, more of you.
(Thanks to Jill Stegall for the picture!)