Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Now and Later

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

It’s funny how things stick in your mind… I have a very vivid memory of being on a school bus in Sundown, Texas.  The year would have been 1971 or ’72, which would have put me in the first or second grade. My class has just finished a party of some kind, and we are about to go on a field trip; hence the bus.  In my hands, I am holding a package of “Now and Later” taffy.  I remember looking at the candy and thinking what an odd name it was.  “Now and Later.”  Why not just call it “Yummy Stuff”?  That would have seemed more accurate.  But “Now and Later”?  It didn’t fit.

In 1962, Harry and Joseph Klein, owners of the Ferrara Candy Company, began to manufacture packages of candy containing nine little squares of taffy and named them “Now and Later” with the idea being since the squares of taffy were individually wrapped, you could eat some Now, and save some for Later

Herein is where that name becomes a mystery to a kid:  You see, with a child, there is no Later when it comes to candy.  There is only Now.  I have this candy in my hands now.  It tastes great now.  Why would I wait to eat it until later?  There is only Now.  “I have candy.  When am I going to eat it?  Oh, that’s easy.  I’m going to eat it right now.”

When Is Now?
Now is a strange time.  When you think about it, Now doesn’t really exist for us.  Well, it exists, but when we try to point at it, or look at it for a moment, that Now has moved on into the past and it becomes Then, an event in the past. Bob asks: “What time is it?” Sam answers: “Now?” Bob replies: “Yes.” And Sam reports: “It’s now 11:27.”  But it isn’t, is it…or rather it wasn’t.  You see, time has passed since Bob asked.  It is a now different Now than when Sam replies. Perhaps ten seconds have passed since Bob asked what time it is…now.  So now is then.  That now is later.  It is a Then now.  We really can’t say what time it is…we can only say what time it…well, was…then.  Crazy huh?
We have another Then as well, don’t we?  …The future Then.  “In two weeks, it’ll be the Anniversary of your wedding, and all of the kids are coming home to visit.  Won’t it be wonderful…then?”  That’s a future Then. The excitement and enjoyment of future Then is only fully understood when we wait long enough for Then to become Now, and…then it’s gone.  It’s Then again…only it’s past.  It isn’t Now anymore.

In order to fully experience and examine Now, we have to stretch it out a bit.  We widen Now so that really, it includes a bit of the future Then and a bit of the past Then.  And then we have to sort of move Now forward as we walk forward in time.  We carry a bit of the past, and reach forward toward the future.  We call this motion…Now.  This is the only Now we have.  To keep Now fresh, you have to move it.  Otherwise, it never really is Now.  It’s just this constant trading the future Then, and moving it back so that it becomes the past Then.  This is the reality of Now. We live in the Now…that ever-moving-forward existence where we live and move and breathe.  Now cannot stand still.  It must move forward.

God has an interesting perspective on the concept of Now.  He doesn’t want us living in either of the Thens.  We can’t relive the past, so aside from improving on our past mistakes, we can’t live back Then.  And we can’t see the future, so we can’t live in the Then that hasn’t happened yet either.  We can only aspire to do our best to find joy and health, love, friendship and success, and live faithfully for the Lord God…whenever that Then becomes a part of our Now.

Joshua 24:14-15 speaks a few words about living in the Now.  It seems that we are to make a decision about who we are going to serve: 

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

This examination of Now and the two Thens may seem a little silly to you as you are reading.  But believe it or not, what is really silly is not understanding the reality and the importance of what we are doing…moving through time.  The purpose of our existence is to serve the purposes of the living God, to worship him, and live for him through our lives.  This is why we were created.  Taking Now with us and inching toward eternity.  The Lord God has given us Now.  He has not given us Then…or Then.
Live in the Now.  It is the only thing we have.  We can’t hold onto it, but we can carry it forward.
“This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Almighty God, Help me to live today…and every moment in this day, for you.  Help me make my living relevant to your purposes and your will for my living.  Release me from the past, protect me from getting lost in the future.  Help me to live in the now.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Submitted By Kerry Patton

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