Jesus said two things that, when put together, show that he wanted us to live in the present moment. First, he told us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). That was his way of saying, “Don’t try to live in the future.” And second, he told us not to put our hand to the plow and look back (Luke 9:62). That was his way of saying, “Don’t try to live in the past.”
All that’s left is the present moment. It’s the only place where life is. Even our bodies tell us this. We do not live on yesterday’s heartbeat, nor do we live on the assumption that it will still be beating tomorrow. We only live because it is beating right now. That’s why heart attacks are life threatening and have to be addressed immediately. We cannot live on yesterday’s or tomorrow’s heartbeat. We have to have a pulse right here. Here-and-now is the location where life exists.
When we apply this to the spiritual life, it is the same. The past gives us memory, and the future gives us hope. But only the present moment gives us life. And not only is it the location of life, it is the source of life; that is, the present moment is sufficient. Here and now we can experience God. Here and now we can understand who we are. Here and now we can discover what others need and how we can help them. Right here. Right now. It is enough.
The past and the future drain energy from us, Jesus said. The future makes us troubled. The past makes us nostalgic. The present concentrates energy in the here-and-now, and like a laser beam it is energy that ignites us rather than depleats us. This is one reason why the mystics used the image of fire to describe abundant living. It is in the present moment where we live, move, and have our being. It is where the “i am” of our life meets the “I AM” of God. Fire!