“What is the matter?” [Alice] said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. “Have you pricked your finger yet?” “I haven’t pricked it yet,” the Queen said, “but I soon shall—oh, oh, oh!”
–Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
In Alice’s second adventure by Lewis Carroll, the heroine encounters the White Queen, a disheveled and absentminded woman who lives life backward—literally. In this scene, the Queen announces she will prick her finger soon and she cries out in pain before the accident takes place; later, she pricks her finger while pinning her shawl. Although we probably find this future-focused mentality strange, we have all been there before—and we can choose not to be.
Humans are creatures of the present day. We physically cannot move forward into the future nor can we leap back into the past. We are placed in the present physically, mentally, and emotionally. So why do we continually plunge into the past, dwell on regrets, and create remorseful “If only I…” scenarios? Why do we flirt with the future, imagine unborn circumstances, and ponder “What if I…” possibilities? Before long, our thoughts and emotions have been drained, needlessly wasted, and therefore empty of service to the present moment. As a result, we miss out on the blessings God has for us because we lack the strength to enjoy them.
So how does one avoid becoming ensnared by the thoughts of the past and the future? By becoming aware of them. God encourages and strengthens us to take every thought captive, and we need to be diligent in conquering thoughts concerning all circumstances. Displacing our minds from the present is one of the devil’s most beloved tools for taking our eyes off of God. Be wary. If regrets from the previous day arise, rebuke them and commit them to God. Be focused. If doubts of the future loom overhead, silence them and entrust them to God. Be faithful. If you allow God to imbue you with concentration and discipline by His power and grace, ease and clarity will abide in your mind.
This, however, is not to dismiss the wisdom garnered from past mistakes nor to disregard the sagacity of preparing in advance. Rather, the insight to be gleaned from the White Queen is the importance of not allowing oneself to be enslaved by past and future mentalities while existing in the present moment, which is fleeting and unrepeatable. If an individual devotes entire mental and emotional energies to that which exists outside present capabilities, that person will unfortunately realize she or he was a useless vessel, blind and numb to the pleasurable works God had prepared with love and anticipation.
Therefore, the choice is ultimately in your hands. Will you allow the past to beat you down with events that cannot be changed? Will you allow the future to paralyze you before you have even begun? Or will you release both into God’s gracious care, allowing Him to work for your good and His glory? Take heart and rest assured in the present, content to do His will with the strength He has given you precisely for each moment. Refuse to worry and instead consciously decide to embrace the privilege of the present. Allow Him to guide you and empower you, and you will find you are free indeed!
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and blessed quiet) for your souls.
—Matthew 11:28-29 (AMP, 1987)
And which of you being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
—Matthew 6:27, 34 (ESV, 2001)