“This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!”
Psalm 118:24 (Common English Bible)
Here and Now is a high energy, uplifting country song by Kenny Chesney that muses on living in the present moment. The track begins with memory of things past, the skyline in New York City, fireflies in Tennessee, and enjoying the sun sinking into the sea from a dozen different islands, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and hat.” The track then moves forward to the “Here and Now.” This is Chesney’s favorite place, “Ain’t no better place, ain’t no better time than Here and Now.” Those familiar with Chesney’s work will recognize a regular message of savoring life in the present moment, free of longing for the past or waiting for tomorrow. Chesney’s contention is that the present moment is what we have now – why wait for something in the future and miss what is abundantly available now. The song weighs how we live now against what we want sometime in the future.
There are people who cling very tightly to the past. They are unable to let go. They hold on beyond anything that is reasonable. Consequently, they are unable to live fully in the present. The result is despair: despair for what is lost. Other people are very future-oriented. They carry a daily planner that contains pages for the present year and for the next year or two. I am that person. My wife and children tease me because I am presently planning our vacation for March of 2023 – two years away! It is tough for me to be in the present and enjoy the promise of what this day seeks to offer. Planning is not necessarily bad. In some respects, planning demonstrates responsibility such as planning carefully for retirement. However, thinking about the future can keep you from appreciating the only day we can live in and that is the present day.
Perhaps this is why Psalm 118 is one of my favorite Psalms. The twenty-fourth verse seems to leap-off the page – “This is the day!” Often, that is the reminder that I need to let the future remain in the future and to enjoy what God desires for me to possess today. It is true for all of us. This is the day that God gives for our work and enjoyment – for us to experience blessings and to bless. This is the day that we may notice God, rejoice, and celebrate. If we look in one direction or another, look to the past or look to the future, God sneaks up, taps us on the shoulder, and asks that we pay attention to the here and now. God softens the longing for what has past and asks that we trust what is to come to God’s care. The present offers pure astonishment, wonder, and delight in the pursuit of God’s ongoing activity in the world.
Kenny Chesney seems to acknowledge that it is tough to be present and to be “in the moment” and try to live with enthusiasm and wonder in that space, “Everybody’s waiting, but they’re waiting on what? Better get to living, ‘cause all we’ve got is here and now.” The best place, the best moment is here and now. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Nor March of 2023. If we fail to claim this, we find that we miss everything that matters. The Lord is active this day, active right now. All of our yesterdays and all of our tomorrows are unable to offer the opportunity that is available in the present moment to experience life as it unfolds all around us. Chesney brings his song to a close, “A lotta people dreaming ‘bout a one-day-some-days waiting just around the bend. I used to be one, wonderin’ when they’d come. But now I’m livin’in Here and Now.” This Psalm invites the same.