Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. // Proverbs 4:25-26
When I pray with this verse, I typically apply it to comparison of myself or my life with others, or to the moral life, or to God's plan for my life. All of these are appropriate applications, but lately, when I sit with this verse, I'm compelled to contemplate the sanctity of the present moment.
My feet are quick to stray from the path of the present moment. Maybe yours are, too. But if we keep our eyes looking "directly forward," where is our focus? On Christ. If we remain fixated on His Holy Face and how He comes to us in the present moment, our path will be straight.
Picking Apart the Past, Fearful of the Future
So often we can become enraptured by both the past and the future. It's as though the enemy and/or our concupiscence would like us focused on anything but where grace is offered to us: in the present moment.
We pluck through the past, reliving regrets or failures. We stay stuck in shame over confessed sin. Or perhaps we look to the past with longing, to times when things were easier, or made more sense, or we were “better.”
The Israelites faced the same temptation when they wandered in the desert.
To Moses they said, “Were there no burial places in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? Far better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” // Exodus 14:11-12
The Israelites desired to turn back to the former life they knew in Egypt after Moses led them out of slavery. They perceived their lot was better there, even though their future full of hope was with God, even in the desert.
And we fret over the future. We want to know how, when, and where. We lose sleep and confidence in the Lord by clinging to control and fracturing over fears.
Jesus knew this about our human hearts and reassured us that there is nothing in the future that is not already foreseen and cared for by Him.
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. // Matthew 6:31-32
Neither of these directions bring us the peace of staying straight on the path with our eyes fixed on Him. Being obsessed with the past or the future turns our gaze inward and we become consumed with self.
Now, understand this does not condemn reflection upon the past to glorify God, remember His faithfulness, or to learn from our mistakes and experiences (we dedicated an entire series to this sort of reflection). It also does not suggest that we forsake praying about and planning for our futures so we can be good stewards of the life and resources God has given us. These are good and holy practices.
But you know when you reach the tipping point. We can feel the difference in our souls between calm contemplation that compels us to prayer and stomach-churning anxiousness that compels us to distraction. And it is this kind of preoccupation that deters us from receiving what God has for us in each and every moment.
Holiness is in the Present Moment
Countless Saints preached on the reality of the present moment. Perhaps so many emphasized the fact that grace is available for the present moment because our human condition easily betrays it. So we know that holiness lies in the present moment. In His presence. When we fix our eyes straight ahead and on Him, we stay aware of His presence. This is exactly what Jesus tells us during the Last Supper.
Remain in me, as I remain in you. // John 15:4
Peace and purpose and power are found only when we remain by His side, next to His Heart.
It is in this hope and call that we embark on this year's summer series, REMAIN.
Remain Summer Series
Over the course of the next ten days, our blog team will share stories from their own lives in which they were tempted to look back or look ahead and the heart-chaos that resulted from that. We will see how the choice to remain with the Lord instead brought about the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We invite you to join us for this special summer series on the Blessed is She blog. Whether you are in a season in which you are looking back or looking ahead rather than remaining in the present moment with Him, this series will provide you with empathy and encouragement, inviting you to turn to prayer instead turning inward.
Together, let's look directly forward, not swaying to the right or the left—the past or the future—knowing that the One upon Whom we look will always make our way straight, straight to His Sacred Heart.
Will you join us for this summer series? Do you find yourself in the throws of being tempted to stay stuck in the past or fretting over the future?
P.S. Grab this free wallpaper for your phone or computer to remind you of your focus during this summer series (and beyond)!