Remember that commercial from Staples where the father loads school supplies into his shopping cart, singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” while his children trudge along gloomily? Well, that time is here.
It’s back-to-school time and back-to-the-office time, but not back-to-normal time. School supply lists include not just notebooks and pencils, but facial coverings and hand sanitizer. Offices have receptionists sitting behind Plexiglas shields, asking us to have our temperature taken and to wear our masks.
We are a culture of planners, organizers, and can-do self-starters who are now unable to plan projects and meetings, unable to financially forecast, and unable to answer questions about the future. I found myself frustrated this week, trying to plan for faith formation activities that normally begin in the fall. How do I even do that right now?
I had to remind myself whose will and whose plan really matters here.
Who’s in Charge?
Sometimes, the plans that we make for ourselves give us a false sense of security in our own abilities to overcome obstacles and direct our future. I say a “false” sense because it has never really been us directing our life, it has always been God.
Through the exercise of our free will and intellect, we make some good and some bad choices. God then lets those choices and consequences play out in our lives. In the end, we end up where His will wanted us to be in the first place.
Knowing this, we can seek to do His will intentionally and cooperatively, or we can resist and do what we feel like doing. Either way, we still arrive at the same place, we’ll just get there a bit more battered and bruised by doing it our way and not His.
God Is in the Planning
When we can’t plan what our home life, school life or business life will look like, we come to a fork in the road. We have the choice to trust in God’s plan for us and live in the present moment, or we can live with a lot of anxiety about how things will turn out.
The thing about the present moment is that it’s really the only place where we can meet God and receive His grace. The past has already happened and any grace that was offered to us there is no longer available. We can’t change a thing about the past, yet we often let ourselves get trapped by it like a bird trying to fly through a net.
The future hasn’t happened, and God can’t give us grace to meet our challenges in a place we haven’t arrived at yet. Worrying about something that may or may not happen then drains us and keeps us from enjoying how God is actually meeting us today, this minute, this second.
The present moment: it’s the place where the Timeless One meets those of us bound by time and gives us what we need to accomplish His will.
Jesus tells us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) In an environment like this, that is anything but normal, advice to not worry might ring a little hollow. But this comes to us straight from Jesus Himself. He knows our concerns of today, and He’s here ready to offer grace and consolation.
It’s up to us to make the choice to follow that advice and believe that it is true, and in one word, to trust. When Moses asked God His name in Exodus 3:14, God said “I am”. He didn’t say “I was” or “I will be”, He just said “I am”.
We can only understand Him and meet Him in this present moment.
The Time Is Now
It’s true: we can’t truly plan right now. We can’t answer questions about what our ministries, jobs, schools, or social lives will look like even a week from now, let alone a month or a year.
But, there’s also no better time than now to find God. Now is the time to meet Him and to see what grace He wants to pour out, what message He wants to give us, and what trust He wants us to place in Him. Now is the time to discover what He is doing, and to know that, whatever it is, it is always for our good.
Right now, it’s the time to simply be with the One who always is.
As to the past, let us entrust it to God’s mercy, the future to divine Providence. Our task is to live wholly the present moment. — St. Gianna Beretta Molla
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