I have always been fascinated by storms.
How could I not be? Growing up on the high plains of Kansas and South Dakota where storms come thundering across the open landscape filling up the sky from horizon to horizon with gigantic billowing towers of black and purple. Awesome.
Storms are awesome. Except, of course, when they are destructive. When they tear up your trees and fold your home flat like a cardboard box. And drive sticks four inches into the wall of your car tire. But that uncontrollable force, that’s what makes storms so captivating. The power, the sheer unpredictable potency of it all. And the way we have absolutely no control over any of it.
I am fascinated with storms. So love the Weather Channel website. I can get on there and track all the storms in their greens and yellows and reds. I can see them roll in on the radar and watch them develop. And wonder and try to plan for it. Will it hit us, or slide south? Will it intensify or dissipate? Will we have to go down into the little 10 by 10 foot dirt basement with our 3 dogs and 2 cats? (What fun.) Just click that button and watch that storm approaching in 5 minute increments.
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Recently the Weather Channel site has added a new feature. Instead of just being able to see the radar readings of the past, you can now see the projections for the future. Right on the map, there it is, with a little “NEW” sticker on it. Look here! Right here! With one click, you can see the future. You can see what will happen next.
I like that button and it would be great if there were more buttons like that. Just click on the future button and you can see how things are going to turn out. What is going to happen in life? What will happen when I go to school?
Just click the future button.
What will happen next week at the office? What will happen if I switch jobs, move to a new area, retire, get sick, have kids?
Click the button.
What will happen if I can’t stop the addiction, find the right crowd, get that next paycheck?
Click the button.
What will happen if I say yes? What will happen if he says no? What will happen if everything falls apart and the storm comes and my whole life folds up like a cardboard box in the wind? What is going to happen? What is the future?
That’s where a lot of our energy goes, into worrying about what will happen next. We click that future button in our heads. And we spin out all the possibilities waiting for us. The worst case scenarios. The dark times we have to be prepared for. We look into the future again and again, with our radar constantly sweeping the horizon. If they say this, then I’ll say that. If they do this, then I’ll have to do that. If things don’t work… If the problems continue… If that person espouses those politics… We are always trying to be prepared for the storm that’s about to hit. Clicking away on that future button, scanning the horizon because we what to know what’s coming and we want to be ready for it.
It’s so true for me and maybe it’s true for you too. Which is why Jesus’ words are such a challenge and a relief to those of us addicted to pushing the future button. For those of us worried about how we will get by, Jesus says this: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25) For all of us so focused on what will happen next, worried about doctor’s appointments, climate change, energy needs, parenting skills, difficult conversations, tough decisions, Jesus says: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt. 6:34)
Focus on today. Be present in the now. Be present in where you are and in the immediate. If you are off somewhere else, living a life out in some undetermined future, are you really living life? Are you really taking in the abundant joyful life that God wants to give? Be present in what needs to be solved today. Be present in every conversation of today. Be present and make the next best decision now, don’t wait until later on. Live in the present. Not the past or the future. God gives us life now, and invites us to trust that God has been with us and will be with us in every present moment. Right now, this very second, God is Emmanuel—God with us. Right now. Not in some far off future.
Storms will come and go, but our Lord is with us always, even now, and in every present moment to the end of the age.