"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds...."
This was the verse in my devotional reading this morning. Along with my Upper Room Daily Reflections I am also reading the daily meditation book Simple Abundance. Today's meditation there was on changing the way we look at as see the world around us. Changing our outlook on life from living either in the past or for the future to living in the moment.
I think there is a strong connection between these two thoughts. Living in the ways of the world we often look back tempted to try and regain the "glorious past". To live the way things were if they were good or to live in regret and be limited in our life today because the past wasn't so good. The world often wants us to believe because of choices made in the past we are what we we are today and there can be no changes. Other worldly thinking tells us to live today always keeping an eye to the future and it's needs. We sacrifice dreams of today so that tomorrow will be better. We miss wonderful opportunities laid before us because there is no time in today to enjoy what it offers. We are too busy preparing for tomorrow.
One thing I have become painfully aware of recently is that we have no guarantee of a future. The only moment that we can be assured that we have to live is the one we are presently living in. All the best laid plans and dreams for a future will not guarantee that, that future will arrive as we planned it to be. Many have discovered we can save and save for a wonderful retirement only to find ourselves in the midst of an economic crisis that wipes out all those hopes and plans. We've seen this past week in Haiti that lives and futures can change in a moment with the shifting of tectonic plates. Dreams of shared travel and relaxed leisure with a loved one in the "golden years" shatter and blow away like dust in the wind with the end of a marriage or death of the loved one. No, our future is not guaranteed. But the way of the world, the way of being a responsible adult, is to spend most of today living to make a better future.
This isn't an easy thought line, to just toss out of our way of living. I am not willing to totally throw out thoughts of the past or all preparations for the future. But they can't become our focus. We can't turn down a person for a job simply because of a mistake they made in their past. We can't reject a friend or loved one becasue of a past event or action. Maybe they learned, grew or became a better person from that mistake or choice. We can't give up on ourselves becasue of a mistake or choice made either. The same may be true for us. Maybe what someone else has told us was a mistake or a bad choice was only that in their eyes. What a tragedy to give up on ones present life as being good because we judge ourselves only by our past. Be it what we see in it or what others try to tell us about it.
As to the future. I do believe we need to be prepared for our future. To be ready to have a future but not at the expense of today. It's not good to mortgage the future to live today, but neither is it good to mortgage today or worse yet give up today to live in the future. There need to be a balance. And I feel if the scales of the balance must tip a bit in any direction they need to tip toward today.
How do I connect the Romans verse and thoughts from Simple Abundance together. I think the answer can be found another Bible verse that tell us how God would like us to think and live. Matthew 6:25-34 gives us Jesus thoughts on worry and our future. If God cares and provides so much for the "lessor" creatures and things of his creation, how much more will he do the same for his children? God provides us with the things we need for the moment, for today. He makes the sun come up. He makes it go down. He provides beauty in the flowers of summer and even beauty in the barrenness of winter. We just need to take time to see it. He even provides us with what we need in the moment to help repair our world when things seem to be at work to rip it apart.
It is human nature, the way of the world to spend too much time in the past or the future; to see what we lack in our present and not what we have. If we are to be transformed we will live each day reveling in our abundance; reveling in the beauty that surrounds us; and seeking to be the best person we can be at this moment in time doing the best we can with what we have. If we can do this I believe the future will take care of itself. I believe if weseek to do this we will find the promise and truth in Jeremiah 29:11--"For surely I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."
Romans 12:2 does not just end with the above words at the beginning of this rather long and rambling post. It continues on and ends with....
"....so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect."
This is the full goal of my life for today. Not only to be transformed, but to be transformed so I may discern the will of God and do it today, not tomorrow.