Welcome to 2014! It’s a brand new year, and with each new year, we all hope for fresh starts and for our goals and dreams to come to pass. The most cliched saying in January is, “This is my year.” But sometimes, we realize we’re saying that year after year for the same thing, hoping for our wishes to come true. With each year, the statement becomes a bit less declaratory…then moves from wistful to despondent to downright sardonic. Yeah…sure it will happen…when Jesus descends to Earth mounting a flying pig.
When the future seems bleak, spiritual thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle suggest centering in the present. His book, The Power of Now, is highly regarded and has helped a lot of people with tips for enjoying the here and now through meditation. I definitely think there is some benefit to this for Christians because we must constantly seek God to help keep us continually focused on Him, no matter what is going on or how we feel.
But when you are denied a dream, the last thing you want to do is to enjoy the present. Because the present sucks. Somehow you feel shafted, rejected, or ostracized. Maybe you received a bum deal or a bad medical diagnosis. Countless attempts for finding your dream date or losing weight seem futile. You want to know where you went wrong (looking to the past), or you worry about when it will happen (projecting into the future).
Telling people to cheer up and be in the moment while they are going through crap is like selling sand in a desert. It’s trite and dismissive…possibly bordering on presumptuous when telling someone how to feel. Sometimes, it’s OK to be hurt. It’s OK if you cannot free your mind or release your Chi…or whatever…
Sure, the little present moments with which God blesses us are nice, but that dream deferred always lingers on the horizon of your fleeting escapes from the drudgery of your thoughts. You can’t just meditate them away and live in bliss. There is more to it.
In addition to asking God for the Power of Now to get through each day, ask Him for the Power of Waiting For It Later.
The Power of Waiting For It Later requires God’s wisdom to execute. It requires God-given resolve and endurance to fight the negative circumstances and the thoughts that accompany them.
Waiting for it later requires bravery and strength to trust that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). Trusting God is not the bliss and flowers part of life…it’s one of the most difficult things we do. And it does not offer us the feelings of happiness and joy we get from indulging in the present because it is so hard sometimes.
Thankfully, God can see outside of time and has perspective we lack. He is the ultimate contingency planner. The tragic irony of our missed opportunities is that God does not always reveal the reasons right away. So there is this murky and rough period of “why is this happening to me??!”
Perhaps you miss an opportunity because there is something better.
You probably have an experience where, in hindsight, you realize that you were passed up to receive an awesome blessing, only to receive an uber-kickass one later. My example is pretty minor, but serves as a reminder for me to keep it in perspective…this happens for the big breaks as well as the little breaks.
I was walking around a lake taking some bird photos with my new camera. It was one of the first non-cold and non-rainy days of spring, so of course there were lots of families with kids and joggers out and about.
I was psyched to spot a lovely yellow warbler chattering in a branch about 20’ above me, just primed for a photoshoot. I had my camera lined up, my settings ready, and then…
“MOMMY, LOOK AT THAT YELLOW BIRD!!!!”
Of course, the startled bird took off before I had a chance to click the shutter button. It flew deep into some thatch and trees, never to be seen again. Fail. I was beyond livid, cursing that brat under my breath. How inconsiderate!
As I continued down the trail, just as I was getting over my irritation at that kid, I saw a flash of red fly across my vision. It was a red I had never seen before…not red like a cardinal, but something else…
I got the camera ready. The bird landed where I could get a good shot. He was a bit further into the forest, so no one else could easily spot him. When I zoomed in, I saw a male scarlet tanager. The first and only scarlet tanager I have spotted since I started my odd birding hobby 2 years ago. It’s a rarer bird to spot than a yellow warbler. These birds are migratory and forest-dwelling, and the males are only striking red for part of the year.
As a beginning birder, this was an achievement. But I also wondered if I had that extra few seconds to photograph the yellow warbler, would I have missed the scarlet tanager?
Was seeing the tanager worth the irritation and upset I felt after that kid botched my shot? Absolutely. At the time, I had to fight through my pissy attitude and hatred of all children everywhere, on some level having faith I would see another yellow warbler. But the unexpected scarlet tanager? All God…
So if you’re too agitated for meditation, smelling the roses just is not doing it for you anymore, and you’re pissed that you’ve done everything in your earthly power to make your dreams manifest…harness that anger and invoke the Power of Waiting For it Later, and get ready to fight! That’s right, you punk missed opportunity, I’m going to trust God for the next one :D.