Be present! Stay in the moment!
It might well be the mantra of the decade. It is hummed from the yoga mat, preached from the pulpit and scribbled in the margins of self-help books. I warrant, it’s true. There is little worth in worrying about tomorrow, as it will happen exactly as God intended it to happen without the assistance of human agony. And fretting about yesterday only gives me indigestion and entices me to break open old wounds in an effort to right past wrongs.
The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. ~Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters
I can see the wisdom of his words. I have felt the lingering, nagging, splinter-like pain of regret. I have felt the heart-stopping, immobilizing fret of the future. The great lie is that by attending to either one, I do some good. Perhaps, guilt and regret are part of paying the penalty. Do I think I am earning God’s sympathy or forgiveness through my groveling? Do I think that by making all kinds of logical suggestions about the future I can change God’s course for eternity?
Far better to rest in the finished, past and continuing work of Christ on my behalf. And far better to trust the Creator of the world to be sufficiently wise to sustain me.
-for the past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.
If it feels good, do it.
If it feels this good, it can’t be wrong!
“When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all, like whether they could afford to rent a certain apartment or whether they had enough quarters to feed the meter at a parking spot.
“When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. ‘I don’t really deal with right and wrong that often,’ is how one interviewee put it.
“Rejecting blind deference to authority, many of the young people have gone off to the other extreme: ‘I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.’”
Apparently, the consensus of this generation is that pleasure is the defining moral code. Wrong.
However, the other extreme, asceticism, is wrong too. Unfortunately, Christianity is often viewed as a moderately ascetic lifestyle. Christianity is considered a list of does and don’ts, and God is seen as the cosmic killjoy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love the way C.S. Lewis’ demon narrator says it in the book, The Screwtape Letters:
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing desire for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.