Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The passing of time and how events unfold have been on my mind recently. I guess that happens when one is preparing to walk their daughter down the aisle.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow all converge into one stream of thought. Simultaneously, I see her through all the ages growing up, the young adult she is today, and have a vision for what she will become. I also see me in all those stages. Twenty-five years ago, or what seems like yesterday, my dad passed away and today his first granddaughter, and a joy of his world, is getting married.

The art of passing through is experiencing these steps in a flow with a synergy between them. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. What we do today, what we have learned from yesterday, and where we go tomorrow all count. Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta has a great quote, “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow.” Stay fresh that we may drink from a flowing stream, not a stagnant pond. We are gently rowing down the stream, however what happens upstream is affecting us today. “The universe is unfolding as it should” is a great line from the 1920 prose poem, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.

What happens now influences what happens next. We should on occasion, look around and be intentional to witness in the present moment. Our lives unfold moment by moment. If we are not fully present for these moments, we may miss small things that can be most valuable. On our wedding day, many years ago, we were given the advice to go stand in a corner and take in our own wedding from an outside looking perspective. That small act created lifelong memories that otherwise may have been lost in the busyness of the day. We have passed that advice on to others, including our daughter, and will once again at her wedding find a place to look at the event from the periphery.

By not seeing the here and now, we may fail to see with clarity the path that we travel, the direction we are going, and the ability to chart a course for tomorrow. We may miss the open possibilities for growth and transformation. Be mindful. See, understand, evaluate, accept, and adjust as needed.

Life is short. Invest in the opportunity before us, in today’s tasks and in today’s conversations. Oprah Winfrey said, “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” I have my own quote on this matter, that resulted from a 1980 ‘college-age’ deep philosophical debate, “Life is time we can’t borrow, so don’t let today get lost in tomorrow.” I knew even then that by making the most of today, it builds a better tomorrow. Recently I saw a cute sign at a Hot Dog stand that said, “Relish Today, Ketchup Tomorrow.”

Babe Ruth had a great saying, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Do not forget that yesterday is a part of us, but we cannot live in the past. Charles F. Kettering said, “You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.” Kenny Loggins is a great example when at the age of 65 he wanted to start a new band. His agent advised against it, telling him that he should just tour playing his old songs and make a good living. Kenny was insulted at the suggestion of living off his yesterday when he felt he still had plenty of todays and tomorrows. He founded the musical trio Blue Sky Riders which released two albums. Plus, there is always one of my favorite sources for inspiration, Jimmy Buffett with the lyrics from Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, “Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder, so I can’t look back for too long. There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me, and I know I just can’t go wrong.”

I have watched the movie Castaway at least 20 times. During the last viewing, a line late in the movie struck a chord. Tom Hank’s character realizes his world has changed. The continuity of his yesterday feeding his today was broken. He says, “I know what I have do now, I gotta keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide could bring.” My daughter and future son-in-law don’t know what the tide will bring. They do know that they are setting fire to their tomorrows with their love of today.

The concept of time in the Old Testament is described in terms of being quantitative and qualitative. Time was not measured mathematically, but individual ‘days’ when God acted were noted theologically, giving it historical context and a revelatory aspect. The authors of Joshua, Judges and Samuel characterized the past in this way, while the prophets spoke of the future in similar fashion. ‘That day’ in the past was the same as ‘that day’ in the future. The ‘Day of Yahweh’ simply became any day when God acted decisively among men. Since God revealed himself in the past and will reveal himself in the future, Israel had a responsibility to respond to covenantal requirements ‘today.’

The final chapter of Hebrews begins with exhortations to the ancient church about love and faith. By the fifth verse, the tone of the passage shifts from loving others to maintain faith in God. We are reminded that God will never leave nor forsake us. The remainder of the passage encourages us to go about our lives practicing obedience to God for the purpose of performing God’s will and bringing Him glory. In this chapter is the verse (13:8), “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

What He said 2,000 years ago about himself and his work remains true. His yoke is easy. He is living water. He is the bread of life. He is the gate. He came to save sinners. He came to bear witness to the truth. He is the way, the truth, and the light.

Read the words of the Saints and the founders of the early church who have gone before us. Regardless of the century in which their words were written, there is a vital and familiar thread that runs throughout. They are describing Jesus with striking continuity and intimacy; in ways that do not change with the cultural tides of time and place. God’s plan unfolding the way He meant for it.

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

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