one day when • a prayer for the here & now

{  s h a d e  }

One Day When • A Prayer for the Here & Now

The dawning of a new year.

A time met with confetti and kisses, with well wishes for health, wealth, and happiness.

A time for fresh starts and new hopes.

A time for planning and looking ahead, listing ambitions and mapping out schedules.

All of this goal-setting can be helpful for prioritizing time and money and for being intentional in seeing where the Lord is already at work around us. But if we are not careful, we can also fall prey to the 3 dangers that lie behind so much forward-thinking.


one…

It distorts our perspective, steering us away from practical acts we can apply to my everyday life and veering off into hazy visions of a distant, rose-colored future:

One day when…the house is finally in order.

One day when…the kids are potty-trained (or in school or grown up).

One day when…we have more money.

One day when…we have it all together and our ends finally meet.

While these may be neither wild imaginings nor impossible scenarios (after all, a clean house is do-able and one day children will grow up), they are enough to generate some stirrings of discontent with our actual reality.

Enough to make us feel dissatisfied with what we have, impatient about what we can’t immediately change, and overwhelmed by the amount of work, time, and trust required of us to get from where we are to where we want to be.

Enough to make us feel so utterly discouraged about goal-setting that we may just as well say one day when we sprout mermaid’s tails and swim off to Neverland.


two…

These feelings of malcontent and restlessness lead right into the second danger: Too much forward thinking dredges up guilt and shame about the past.

After all, our present insecurities and inadequacies are rooted in the actions and decisions we have already made, and if we dwell on them too long we are tempted to start rewriting history.

Much like speculation about the future leads to dreams of one day when, speculation about the past descends into the condemning statements of if we had just:

If we had just…not gotten angry and said those things.

If we had just…known the company would be doing lay-offs at the end of the year.

If we had just…seen the doctor sooner.

If we had just…been better…faster…stronger…at everything.

This kind of thinking begins a shame spiral that is hard to stop. Our dark imaginings about what could have been feel so real and hit so close to home that it is easy to forget that they are just that–imaginings. Empty, powerless, and false.


three…

When we dream of the future and dwell on the past, we neglect the present. And that is the third and most potent danger.

Too much forward-thinking empties today of the strength and beauty that are its rightful portion (even if it means accepting the trials and lessons that come with it).

To guard against this pitfall, we must employ our most powerful weapon: prayer.

Prayer centers us. It restores us to our proper place both in time and in our relationship to God. Prayer immediately places us squarely under the authority of the One who, Himself beyond time, has the power to bring forth good from all things–past, present and future.

In prayer, the Lord reveals what is required of us in the present-tense of our everyday lives: to act justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

For me, living in the present tense means turning my eyes away from worthless things (things like the vain imaginings of one day when and if I had just) and turning my heart toward the word of the Lord (Ps. 119:36-37). And I’m starting with a prayer that goes a little something like this:

Lord, help me to live here in this place,

this present,

not in fear of future, not in guilt of past,

but hoping in your promises and trusting in your faithfulness.

Help me to take hold of the life that is truly life,

which is Your word and Your presence,

not my vain imaginings about what might be and what could have been,

for we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Help me to be light and life,

here in this place, here in this circumstance,

not when the house is finally in order

or when the kids are grown up

or when we have more money

or when we have it all together

but now.

Now.

In the ceaseless bickering and never-ending mess.

In the unexpected injury and the sudden sickness.

In disaster and in crisis.

Now.

In this moment when I don’t feel beautiful or organized or kind or happy or fulfilled or hopeful or strong.

Now.

Help me to trust you are close.

Help me to trust the guidance of your hand,

your hand that is not too short for me.

Help me to know that you are enough.

More than enough.

A very great reward.

Help me to see that my cup is running over

Running over right here and right now

Running over with your mercy that forgives

with your blood that justifies

with your grace that sanctifies

Help me to know that in You,

The Great I Am,

I am more than a conqueror

I am an heir to the promise of

I am resting in the shadow of your wings.

Here and now.

That is my prayer.

You could even call it my goal.


unless otherwise noted * graphics, photographs, text © 2017 hilary hall

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