Here and Now, Not There and Then

Are you depending on what’s next for your happiness?

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stand firmThanks to Stand Firm magazine, a daily devotional for men published by LifeWay Christian Resources, for getting me thinking in this direction during my quiet time this morning. 

Psalm 16:5-11 is a great affirmation of the “immediateness” of satisfaction in the Lord:

Lord, You are my portion[c]
and my cup of blessing;
You hold my future.
The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me—
even at night my conscience instructs me.
8 I keep the Lord in mind[d] always.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad
and my spirit rejoices;
my body also rests securely.
10 For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.
11 You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Notice all the present tense verbs in this passage: You are. You hold. I have. I keep. He is. Is glad. Rests. Reveal. Is. Are.

I confess that more often than not, I have a Chicago Cubs approach to happiness and contentment. I am always waiting till next year. The next promotion, the next recognition, the next change, the next phase. Why can’t I be happy in the here and now?

Matt Chandler has said, “No change of job, no increased income, no new electronic device, or no new spouse is going to make things better inside you.”

I still remember the first sermon I ever preached, when I was sixteen years old. The title was “Heaven Ain’t All There Is.” The text was John 10:10, about the abundant life. The opening illustration was about a 19th century immigrant who had saved all his money to buy a ticket to America. He had no money left over to buy food on board the ship during the voyage. Every night he looked through the windows at the passengers in the first class dining room, feasting at the captains table. His stomach growled, hunger gnawed, but he held on, knowing that once he got to America, everything would be better.

But finally, the night before the ship was to dock, his hunger got the best of him. He went to a ship’s steward and begged him for some scraps from the captain’s table. The steward asked to see his ticket, examined it, and said, “Sir, this is a first class ticket. You’ve been able to dine at the Captain’s Table for the entire voyage.”

Why was it easier to believe I could experience abundant life in the here and now at age 16 than it is at age 49? Am I waiting for the next big thing, believing that is what it will take to experience satisfaction in the Lord? I claim to believe that “heaven ain’t all there is.” Do I live this life as though peace and joy and satisfaction are only to be found in the next life?

Lord, let that not be true today. Today, let me claim that “my soul finds rests [there’s that present tense again!] in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Author: jamesleejackson

I am a pastor in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, be a father to Caleb and Joshua. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

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