I strongly believed a lie when I was younger. I still sort of do. Except now, every once in a while, I realize that it’s just a bit of propaganda my mind makes up. This beautifully veiled monster of a lie completely stole my teenage years. Under the guise of bringing hope, it robbed me of my college years. It’s a stupid, stupid, lie. I can’t believe I fall for it so often but I do. Even now the reason I am writing this is to remind myself that I fell for it, again. I sincere hope that you won’t.
LONGING FOR THE PERFECT
Before you can truly understand the lie and why it is a lie, you must know the background. The human heart has a deep inner longing, a sacred groaning, for a nostalgic place of perfection. We yearn for a world that where there is no wrong, no suffering, no pain, no ugliness. CS. Lewis wrote that ”If I find in myself a Desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” So thus humanity has an enigmatic hunger for perfection, for beauty, for wholeness. This yearning lives in our bones, and pumps through our veins. It drives our deepest emotions and worldly pursuits. Our every breath is permeated with the quest for that which is perfect. We devote our whole lives to restoring perfection. We are all searching for that hallowed ground where we can make our Eden.
So then, we are all homesick for a place we do not know. And thus we live searching for any place or anything that could replace that longing, for just a little bit. We want to see the ultimate perfection that can only be found in the infinite riches of Christ. Yet without realizing it we begin to project our hope onto earthly temporal things. Instead of realizing our desires are for a place beyond this world, we yearn to find their fulfillment here. And because they are not being fulfilled today, we assume we can reach them tomorrow. Thus we are always looking for our “Glorification” to come in the near future.
PREPARING FOR TOMORROW
Here then is the great lie that so cunningly deceives us: We imagine that the fulfillment of our deepest desires is coming soon, and it’s nearness is intensified by our strivings towards it.
We think “Today I prepare; tomorrow I will truly live. Today everything is broken, wrong, and not yet perfect, but tomorrow (or some other day) I will fix everything and it will be perfect.”
We assume that our genuine happiness can be achieved through some alignment of events, possession, and positions. And when that day comes (always tomorrow) then we will be fulfilled, we will be happy, we will have found our perfect Eden.
Here are some periods in your life that this lie is especially fond of.
1. Teenage Yearnings: You have no freedom and no money. Tons of time to waste, but nothing good to waste it on. You look at the stars and think of the power you will soon have. You will drive, have your own house, have no one to tell you when your curfew is. You might even get that girl to finally like you. “Tomorrow, when I’m 18 everything will be perfect.”
2. College projections: You are stuck with homework and college bills. Every second of your time is claimed by your greedy classes. You are reduced to a beggar, asking everyone in your family for lunch money. You will fight for a discount on college books. You look up from your studies and daydream of the future. You will have so much free time. You can do anything you want. Travel. Sports. Buy a house. Have a dream Job. Have so much money. “Tomorrow, when I graduate everything will be perfect.”
3. Careers advancements: You have graduated and are confused at the amount of time it’s taking to get that good job. You’ve got a shoddy one for now; it’s got terrible hours, lackluster benefits, and a salary that’s a few zeroes short of your daydreams. You work your hide off, taking regular breaks to fantasize about imminent joys. Soon you will get a great promotion, your job will get better, they will recognize your talents. Then you can get a bigger place, a nice car, take fun vacations, buy nice clothes. “Tomorrow, when I get my dream job everything will be perfect.”
4. Building a home: You finally bought your own place. It’s much smaller than you imagined. And stinkier. The old creaky floors are not quite the luxury you anticipated. You remodel it, and save money for a bigger house. Soon it will be perfect. It may take a year or two to fully create what you want and then, you think, then it will be perfect. “Tomorrow, when I build my perfect home everything will be perfect.”
5. Finding romance: You are alone and besides your job there is not much to give you excitement. The re-runs of ‘Friends’ are stale company before you go to bed. You are starting to fall in love. She is perfect in every way, you imagine. Soon she will respond to your romancing, she will fall in love with you too, then life will be blissful. “Tomorrow, when we fall in love everything will be perfect.”
6. Creating a family: You are married, and have a few younglings. The money is scarce. Almost as scarce as your sleep. Everything is always so hectic, busy, and confused. There is no time to relax or wind down. One day soon, you hope. The kids will grow up and take care of themselves, heck even help you out with the chores. You will have time to read and go on vacations. “Tomorrow, when my family settles down everything will be perfect.”
7. Restful retirement: Your kids have grown up and are on the verge of leaving. You have worked so hard for so many years. It’s hard to remember when you even took a break. There were always so many things to do; money to earn, bills to pay, cars to fix, laundry to wash. It flew by. Oh, but soon, and very soon, is coming a time of rest. You will retire. Take all the time off to take a peaceful walk by the beach. You can finally travel like you have always wanted. You have finally paid off the house you were enslaved to. “Tomorrow, when I retire, everything will be perfect.”
And tomorrow never comes. We are utterly broken and madly disillusioned. To quote the Les Miserables Musical “there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.” This is the typical life living under the influence of this terrible lie.
LIVE TODAY, TOMORROW ISN’T YOURS
This whole month I have been spending my evenings remodeling our condo. I had made it my idol of tomorrow. I realized I was doing the same thing I have always done, to think my joy will be satisfied in the future, upon the completion of this thing I’m achieving. I caught myself thinking “just push through today, and soon you can really live and be happy.” What a lie! I have since remembered I ought to live today, enjoy every nail I drive in, and to glorify God now, not later. I am striving to fight this lie and live today, right now, not for tomorrow’s sake, but for Christs sake.
The “tomorrow” lie tells you that today is completely unimportant, and tomorrow is ultimately important. Yet the truth is that today is highly important, and tomorrow is completely uncertain. This lie robs you of enjoying each moment, of doing what you ought to, need to, or want to, here and now. Instead it tells you to idolize tomorrow and ignore today. Jesus calls us to find joy in Him today, hope in Him for our tomorrow, and trust that He will bring our Eden, at His own time and pace. Only Jesus can satisfy our longing, tomorrow will always fail us. So live slowly, intentionally, and purposefully today. Live now while you have life.
“Do you hope to achieve something amazing tomorrow? Do you want to become healthy? Fit? Smart? Rich? Do you want your life to be better? Do you want your dreams to be satisfied? Do you yearn to create an Eden tomorrow? To make a place where everything bad is replaced and only good reigns? Are you neglecting your life today in order to build this “little heaven” tomorrow? Stop living for the future, for it shall never come. Take all of those hopes for tomorrow and discard them. Live in the present. Live slowly, intentionally, and purposefully today. Live now while you have life.”