I am a firm believer in hope as a virtue. I believe that we should be diligent to trust the hands of the Creator as He brings us all to the glorious and beautiful end that He has promised. But, I am not a supporter of the extreme twisting of hope that this can lead to. Escapism is that twisted way of thinking that seems to believe that the only thing hope is good for is to relieve the tensions and weight of the present moment. I see no place in the Bible where escapism is elevated to the level of virtue, in fact in the book of Jeremiah it seems that God told His people to let the hope of the future become the fertile soil of productivity and life in the present.
I have been thinking about all of that this morning because I dropped my little girl off for her first day of school this morning. This is her first day ever. We sat in a throng of traffic for an unholy amount of time, parked an obscene distance from the school, walked through puddles, mud, and slippery grass, dodged crazy-eyed women driving in gigantic SUV’s while they used their tiny handheld computers to text their friends and struggle with Candy Crush Saga. Once we finally made it to the school building and navigated the colored hallways and breathed the glue from a thousand new backpacks we got to my daughter’s classroom.
I watched the bravado and confidence of my sweet little girl fall away as she realized that there were no more preparations, just the raw reality of something new. I hugged her, kissed the back of her head, and then walked away. I got half way down the hallway and decided that I wasn’t done yet. So I made my way back to the classroom door and spied through the small, square pieces of glass that lined the opening. We had already said “goodbye”, there were no more words, and I certainly didn’t need to interrupt the class that was going on; but I did need to see my girl.
Getting back into my car it occurred to me that the temptation was very present to ponder just where this new road would lead my daughter. But I pushed that temptation back as quickly as I could.
You see someday she will graduate from Kindergarten, able to tie her shoes and claim a mighty mastery over phonics and finger-paints. Someday she will look back and see kindergarten as “just kid’s stuff”. Someday she will be at the top of the elementary hill, a beautiful fifth grader, with a knowledge and understanding of that school that any seasoned captain would love to have over the high seas. Someday she will once again grow nervous as she moves on to a different building and a different set of scholastic and social rules in middle school and then high school. Someday she will be hurt. Someday she will be excluded from some group of kids that she wants to be with “so bad”, and she’ll come home crying, convinced that her life is over. Someday daddy will have to hold her while she cries because because her heart is broken. Someday she will walk across a stage, wearing a cap and a gown, the smartest, most beautiful, and most successful student in the district (it’s my blog, you want to disagree start your own). Someday she will fall in love. Someday she will leave home and the peace and quiet that I want right now will feel more like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie as it eerily creeps through the house, attempting to smother the same places that used to be so full of life and sound. Someday she will find another man to take care of her. Someday I will walk her down a long aisle, pass her hand to another person who will also not be worthy of her, and she will no longer be known by my last name. Someday.
I could go on and on with those thoughts. And I almost did this morning. But despite what might happen “someday”, today is here now. I, and we, would be foolish to rob today of what it can be by living in the days that have not gotten here yet. I believe in planning, I believe in dreaming, and I believe in hope, but I do not believe in them at the expense of the present. If our hope only causes us to see the future as worthy of our attention then our hope looks more like paralysis.
Today my little girl didn’t get her license to drive, she didn’t graduate, she didn’t get a job, and she didn’t marry some grubby boy who doesn’t deserve her. Today she started Kindergarten. I would have been a fool to keep walking down that hallway dreaming about what might happen in her future without turning around and spying through the window, old-school stalker style, and letting the present be what it is. If I can’t embrace her first day of school as “Just” her first day of school, then I am almost doomed to perpetually look past all of the milestone moments that are coming.
Friends, it is the weight of our hope in the future that should cause us to see the present moments differently. Every plan that God has for us, every dream that He has ever dreamed for our destiny, they are not “out there” – they are “right here”. What God wants to do in you and for you is as much about what you do in the next ten minutes as it is what you will do in the next hundred years. I encourage you to slow down in those moments that make it so tempting to look ahead. Sometimes our “somedays” can blind us to the reality of our “todays”. Just think what I would have missed if I had stayed focused on someday, I would have missed my beautiful little Bird’s first day of Kindergarten.
I wonder what else we might be missing?