Our life experience is formed by the choices we make in the moments. All we really have is the present. Our past is made up of memories of our moments. The future is still wrapped up in hope. This means that in every present moment we create what will become our memories and, in most cases, our expectation of the future defaults to this past experience. Those of us who have positive memories generally have hope for the future and those of us who have consistently negative memories will likely expect the same in the future. Except …
Except for what we do in the present – the place where God lives.
God lives in eternity - which is all present. To God, the past and the future are in the present. As a created being that is caught up in time, this concept is difficult for me to grasp. I can, however, fully understand that the present is a gift from God. The present can change everything. The present is a portal to the past and to the future. C.S. Lewis said, “The present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
In this present moment, I can look back at a negative memory and be trapped by it. In that cage I form my future. Or I can look back at that memory and reframe it by finding a different truth and be set free. A memory is never one-dimensional. It is multifaceted. We can find a different truth. My mother was a working mom back in the 50’ and 60’s when it was the norm in South Africa for mothers to be stay-at-home moms. I could have memories of an absent mother and feel neglected. Or … I can reframe it and see a woman setting an example of capacity and ability and determination for her three daughters. I choose the latter. My present choice frees me to have hope for the future – and in some mysterious way I have entered eternity. The past and future collide in the present and something very powerful happens. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Finding the words of Jesus for any given moment and reframing our thoughts around this, sets us free.
Henri Nouwen said, “All the events of life, even such dark events as war, famine and flood, violence and murder, are not irreversible fatalities. Each moment is like a seed that carries within itself the possibility of becoming the moment of change…We begin to have a truer vision of the world and of our lives in relationship to time and eternity. We begin to glimpse something of eternity in time.
At Orchard: Africa, we are in the business of eternity, but we only have the present moment in which to function. When a child is hungry, we feed that child in the present. In so doing, we help to reframe her experience and give her hope for the future. When she was in COVID lockdown in 2020 and she was hungry, God provided food for her family. When she and her little brother needed a warm blanket, God provided. When her mother needed healthcare at home because she could not leave due to lockdown, God provided. Her past hunger and need is reframed by God’s present love and provision. This gives her hope for the future. The present becomes a portal to the past as well as to the future and in this place of eternity a life is changed.
I give my most heartfelt thanks to each of you, our partners, who have, and who continue to operate in this mysterious place called eternity. Heaven truly knows the difference you are making.
May we think on these things!