One of the Most Overlooked Gifts

As I type out this devotion, it is the morning of Black Friday.  While some (perhaps you) are out in the cold, fighting for parking spaces and waiting in long lines for all the super deals offered by the stores, I am snuggled up with Barnabas on the couch in front of a roaring fire.  This is how I do Black Friday!

As I went through my morning routine of having my devotion time and then checking my email (most of which were ads of some sort for Black Friday), I began to think about the search for the perfect gift.  How much time, energy and money do we spend each year trying to find that perfect gift for the friends and family in our lives?  Probably more than we'd care to admit, right?  But as I thought on that this morning, I realized that we take for granted and downright overlook one of the most precious gifts ever given.  It is so valuable that its very name is a form of the word "gift."  Yes, I'm talking about the present.

Let's be honest.  How many of us miss out on the joys and blessings of the day because we're too focused on the past or the future?  Haunted by mistakes we've made.  Worried about what tomorrow may hold.  Looking back.  Looking forward.  Existing in the present but seldom living in it.  I guess it's one of the curses of living in such a fast-paced world.  We don't feel we have the time to stop and smell the roses or take a walk or lend a hand.  We rush through today only to get to tomorrow and repeat the frenzy.  Is it any wonder we're tired, stressed and anxious?  We weren't made to live this way.

Allow me to lay a little Kung-Fu Panda wisdom on you.  According to the wise old turtle, Oogway, "The past is history.  The future is a mystery.  But today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present."  Today is a gift.  The question is, what are we doing with that gift?  Are we enjoying it?  Are we relishing it?  Are we thankful for it?  Or are we too busy living for tomorrow that we barely notice it?

I've been working hard over the past few months to be more mindful of the present.  Simple things like enjoying my food rather than swallowing it whole and taking time to sit on the floor and pet the dog have genuinely impacted how much pleasure I find in each day.  It takes time and effort to live in the moment, but I believe it affects us far more than we realize.

If you feel like a hamster on a wheel, running hard but going nowhere, or life seems like a rut of routine and obligations, then you may be overlooking one of life's greatest gifts--the present.  Slow down. Take a breath.  Enjoy the moment.  After all, we can't change the past, and the future hasn't yet arrived nor is it promised.  So, let's live in today.  Let's take the time to notice each blessing and embrace each opportunity.  Let us not be so focused on tomorrow that we completely lose sight of today.  After all, it is a gift from God.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24