In his book “The Power of Now” Ekhart Tolle urges us to forget about the disappointment and hurts of the past, stop worrying about the future, and concentrate on being fully conscious in the present. After all, the present is all we ever have. It’s always today. Yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow may never come. If we miss out on what is going on in the present we are wasting our most valuable (and irreplaceable) asset: time.
Another way to put this is, life is not so much about a future destination as it is about the journey. Today is all you really have, so carpe diem (seize the day)! Jesus was quite clear about this when he said:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus had given the invitation to follow him and to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And he made it clear that meant here and now, not at some time in the future. The kingdom of heaven is in your midst he said. The invitation was to journey along with him to enjoy his presence and to learn from him. His disciples left everything behind and did follow him although they didn’t really understand what that meant. Up to the end of his ministry they expected the Messiah to be a conquering hero who would overthrow the oppressive government and set them free from Roman domination. He did that indeed, although he did it through all powerful love and not destructive force. When the disciples finally understood that after the Holy Spirit filled them at Pentecost, they went out in love and conquered the whole world in Jesus’ name, including the Roman Empire.
Fellowship with God is what we are created for, to travel the journey of life with him, enjoying his presence with us and learning from him, as it was in the Garden of Eden. Jesus’ ancestor King David had said many years before,
“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 NIV) and
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1, 2 NKJV)
David did not have the advantage we have today of the full time indwelling of God’s Spirit and looked forward to the day he could enjoy God’s uninterrupted presence. But Jesus still calls us to follow him on life’s journey today and every day. If you think of salvation only as a “golden ticket” to a future paradise you are sadly mistaken. God’s call is to join him now in the kingdom of heaven. Life is a journey we can enjoy today more than a location to arrive at some future time.