Christmas time: Living in the present

By Al Earley - A Religious Point of View

Most of us have heard of the most famous clock in the world, Big Ben in London, England. Big Ben is a 13 ½ ton bell attached to a 5-ton clock in the tower of the Houses of Parliament. Built in 1859, it is famous for its accuracy. But several years ago, scientists determined that in twenty years the clock had gained one second on God’s celestial time. God’s celestial time? Yes, that’s exactly what it is. You see, the sun & stars & planets move so precisely in their orbits that scientists gauge the precision of our time-keeping instruments by their celestial movements. How did they fix Big Ben to keep it from gaining one second every twenty years? They did it by attaching a coin about the size of a penny to the top of the giant pendulum. And now it is in absolute accord with God’s celestial clock. Time is a funny thing. We talk about time as if it belonged to us: I don’t have time, I’m running out of time, you wasted my time, how much longer? The Bible tells us that all time, like everything else in creation is God’s. This can be incredibly helpful for us to remember when our present time is preoccupied by carrying the chains of the past, or dreaming about a future that may never come. Jesus started his ministry with these words, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).

To help us think about living in the precious present I start by asking how old are you? We date this from our day of birth. What if, when we were born God stamped the date of our death right under our belly button. Would that affect the way we live our lives? I think we would not say, I am Fifty years old. I think we would say I have fifty years to live. This raises the old question, “If you knew you were going to die tomorrow how would you live your life today?

Cancer patients call living in the precious present “living one day at a time.” I have learned the most about valuing each moment of life as precious by spending time listening to cancer patients tell me about living one day at a time. With cancer, you learn quickly that all you have for certain is today. They take the time to clean up the past, tie up loose ends, make peace with the family, and set themselves free from the past, so they can live for each precious day. They also learn that thinking about all the “what ifs” of their coming cancer treatments can be fearful and exhausting. Jesus said “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

In the scripture quoted above Jesus calls us to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven has come near. It is important to deal with past sins, once and for all, and put them behind you. If you really want to know what your sins are, confess them, and begin living today free from them read Ephesians 4:17-32 very carefully. Ask yourself if you do any of the things listed in this scripture, and be brutally honest with yourself. Write down your sins, and once you are done ask Jesus Christ to forgive you. Remember, He forgives every sin. Once you receive His forgiveness, and forgive yourself (for many this is even harder) you will have a new sense of peace with your past, and can live in the precious present much better.

What are the benefits to living in the present instead of the past or future? What areas of the present or future seem most difficult for you to escape? Is it possible to make peace with your past? How? Do you worry about the future? Does that make the future easier to handle or solve problems that may occur in the future? How is living in the present, free from the past and future, like living in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth?

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By Al Earley

A Religious Point of View

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