But afterwards … ! (Month of Proverbs)

NYC - Battery Park: Jerusalem Grove and Batter...
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“Bad, bad!” says the buyer;
but once he has gone his way, he boasts.

Possessions gained hastily at the outset
will, in the end, not be blessed.
(Proverbs 20:14,21)

We are constantly told to “Live in the present moment” – a reminder we need in the midst of our scattered lives, when we may be tweeting and texting and phoning while – ostensibly – lunching with a friend.  But Proverbs gives us another perspective.

Advertisers count on our response to their messages in the moment – that we will see a product, want it, and buy it almost as one act.  Ads can make our mouths water, our hearts long for a trip to remote ends of the earth, or feel inadequate because our shoes, clothes, hair or body are somehow wrong.  Advertisers, politicians, all sorts of persuaders dread one thing: our ability to project ourselves into the future, to make a choice in our imagination and then fast-forward our lives for a week, a month, a year and see how the choice looks from that vantage point. Usually, the change is dramatic.

I was once with a friend who was describing “the shoes to die for” and lamenting that she did not have the money to buy them. It was early spring.  Not being a fashionista – I had no idea what these shoes were like – I said, “Well, you could save up – I bet you could buy them by fall or winter.”  A peculiar look crossed her face, and she changed the subject.  Later, she told me what happened.  She realized that, by the time she could save up enough money for these fancy shoes, they would be out of fashion – and would have no value to her.  The realization didn’t reduce her craving for the shoes – but it shifted her decision (the act of her will) about buying them.

To live fully in the present moment, we need to leave it frequently. We visit the past to remember and learn from our lives thus far.  We preview the future to improve our choices in the present.  We come home, to the present, to encounter the reality that God has put in front of us this day – but we bring the richness of our time travel with us.

Man’s steps are from the Lord;
how, then, can a man understand his way?

A lamp from the Lord is the breath of man,
it searches through all his inmost being.
(Proverbs 20:24,27)

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