Some of my favorite childhood memories are from days when I stayed home with some random cold or stomach bug. It’s not that I enjoyed being sick, but I would get to stay in my pajamas all day, eat chicken noodle soup, and the best part – watch all the old movies I wanted. I’m not saying I ever faked an illness (wink, wink), but let’s just say I had a “very sick childhood.”
We had maybe thirty or so movies (on VHS, of course), and one of my more frequent “sick day” selections was the western classic, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. If you haven’t seen it, stop whatever you’re doing right now and watch it. Maybe you deserve a sick day.
The best scene in the movie is when Butch and Sundance are cornered on a cliff edge by a gang of lawmen sent to hunt them down. Faced with either a gunfight against terrible odds or jumping into a boulder-filled ravine hundreds of feet below, the two outlaws begin to argue about their next move.
Sundance, always the rebel, wants to come out guns blazing, but Butch knows the only real option is to take a flying leap off the cliff. Only after several refusals to jump does Sundance ashamedly admit that the real reason he doesn’t want to take the plunge is that he can’t swim. Butch bursts out laughing and says, “You’re worried about drowning? It’s the fall that’s gonna kill ya’!”
Sundance was worried about drowning. Butch was focused on surviving the jump. Staying afloat would come later. The reason that scene sticks with me is that it reminds me how we all tend to worry over things that aren’t even here yet while at the same time ignoring the issues right before us.
Just like you, I am prone to moments of stress and anxiety over how a certain situation is going to work out or what I will do when I eventually face that difficult decision. I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future or think about how we will handle a particular problem down the line, but we can’t let those distant problems keep us from paying attention to today – the tasks, opportunities, and decisions that face us now.
Let me illustrate this a bit further by sharing a passage of Scripture from Genesis 15.
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:1–6, NIV)
While there’s a lot more going on in this passage than I can address here, the main point is this: while Abram was spending time worrying over when he would get a son and what would happen to his family line, God was teaching him that only the relationship with Himself, Almighty Creator, would satisfy the longing of his heart. God was in effect saying, “Stop stressing over how or when you’ll receive a son. That’s tomorrow’s problem! But today, right now, the I AM is before you, and I desire to bless you and comfort you – if you’ll let me.”
We can’t ever overestimate the value of right now – this exact moment. At this very second, you have before you a tremendous opportunity to do great things. It may not always appear that way, but it’s true. However, if you’re so worried about what’s going to happen five minutes, five days, or five years from now, you might not be able to see that God is standing before you right now!
So, what’s going to get your focus and attention – today or tomorrow? Are you going to worry about the rocks and the boulders in the river below, or are you going to focus on the jump? To ask it another way: are you going to seek God right now, to focus on Him and what He would have you do at this very moment? Are you going to miss this opportunity to draw closer to your Heavenly Father just so you can stress over what tomorrow might bring?