Many of us remind one another that it is important to do the things that matter most and not get distracted by the busyness of life. We repeat the cliché that “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” The idea is to encourage us to spend more time with the people we love and do enjoyable things that are life-giving. That is reasonable advice. Spending time with family and friends, making memories doing pleasant and meaningful activities, connecting with God, and seeing beautiful places are what make life better for most of us. Saying that we’ll do those things “someday” – when we have more time, when we have more money, when we don’t have so many crises to handle – usually means that these gratifying things don’t happen. Or at least they don’t happen nearly as much as they should.
However, life is not all about vacations, leisurely mornings reading on the porch, and good afternoons on the golf course. We all have to deal with the day-to-day realities of work, school, scrubbing the toilet, caring for children and/or elderly parents, and many other responsibilities. It seems to me that one of the keys to a fulfilling life is being able to appreciate the moment in which we are living and to be engaged with the people who are present, even if we are not in an amazingly beautiful place or having a gourmet meal. This truth was made clearer at Dan Wingate’s funeral on August 27. Dan was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, faithful follower of Jesus, builder of homes and computer programs. As many of us talked about Dan, a recurring theme was that he was always present. When he was doing something, whether it was installing a pulley system to raise the banners in the Trinity sanctuary, hard at work leading a team at Travelers Insurance Company, enjoying time playing with his children or grandchildren, or hosting a party with his wife, Cheryl, for their friends – Dan was fully present. He enjoyed today, because he knew that was the only day we really get. Dan didn’t say, “I’ll work 90 hours a week so that I can retire someday.” Dan said, “We just got a lot of snow. Who wants to go out in the yard to build a snow dragon?”
This is a good reminder for all of us. God does not live in the past or in the future but in the present. We live our best lives when we live in the present, too. “This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Whether we are at work in an office, laboring at a construction site, cleaning the kitchen floor at home, in a discussion at a church meeting, sharing a meal with good friends, or enjoying a sunrise at the ocean, we can be present and appreciate what we are doing and the people we are with. God is present in all we do, and, when we recognize that, everything is better. We don’t have to wait for “someday.”