I’ve found myself sitting in a big, reclining leather chair. It’s one of two that face a large window that overlooks the back patio of my parent’s house. If you were sitting next to me, you’d see a little stream that trickles through the middle of their back yard and pours out into Thomas Creek.
It’s a beautiful site and a scene I’ve witnessed countless times: the towering trees that cast deep shadows across the property, the stream that widens into the creek, and the sense of peace that comes with each breath you breathe.
But as I look out the window tonight, I see none of that. I see a window filled with darkness, as it’s slightly past midnight and the night seems to have stolen nature’s beauty. At least for a time.
Earlier in the day, I brought my kids down to visit my mother for her 54th birthday. We surprised her with a small party, just a few of us gathered at my parent’s house and we had a great little celebration. Now, as I sit in this comfy leather chair many hours after everyone has gone to bed, I marvel as the small light from the corner of my parent’s living room breaks the darkness and illuminates the faces of my children as they sleep scattered across the floor.
I marvel because I am reminded just how incredible life, and the time in which we have to live it, really is. Truly it is. The living, breathing, life-giving spirit that moves within us. It’s fascinating.
And yet, as I look down at their beautiful faces, I struggle envisioning their future, seeing them not as they are now but as they will one day be. Their characters are developing and I can see their personalities shining through every smile, but as for the choices they’ll make, the paths they’ll choose, I have no idea.
When I think of their futures it often forces me to examine my own life and the choices and decisions – some really dumb decisions – I’ve made along the way. Things that have caused myself and others much pain. I think of all the time I’ve wasted on things that haven’t mattered and my heart breaks. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I’ve made. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better son, and a better child of God and I want to be the best example I can possibly be.
But I feel helpless at times. Lost, if I’m being honest. I struggle with the future because the past can be so messy.
Maybe, if I could give myself some advice, I’d say that what I do today is far more important than what I did yesterday. And, as C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
Maybe I’d take advice from an unlikely source, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise:
“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives, but I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.”
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”