9.21.2006

Past, Present, Future

leehGrowing up, I was always a future-oriented person. My only
recollection of being 4 was wanting to be 5. I kept a calendar way
before most of my friends did. I was always good at planning ahead: I
once left an admissions officer at Berkeley speechless when I inquired
about different joint degree options involving law school . . . at the
age of 16.

I'm still pretty future-oriented and still pretty good at planning.
But I'm learning to appreciate the importance of living in the past
and present, too. Moving to Philadelphia, which is so steeped in
history, has helped me get the fact that in order to know anything,
you have to know history. I recall my freshman year at PENN, when my
carefully crafted course schedule for my very first semester in
college got completed revamped one week into the term. That taught me
that there's only so much planning you can do; sometimes you just have
to wait and see, and making the decision later is often better.

My faith has also played a role in helping me to respect the past and
the present. Of course, the entire Bible is about past events and
past writings, and it is the very fact that God has proven faithful in
the past that we can trust Him to be the same in the future -- thus,
the more we ruminate on the past, the more ammo we will have for the
future. The Bible also speaks about being in the present -- whether
in worship before God or in having an authentic moment with another
person, to care for them and to treat them with the dignity and honor
and importance that they deserve.

Of course, God, unbound from the constraints of time unlike us, can be
simultaneously in the past, present, and future. We have to shift
somewhat more clunkily between the three. I used to be stuck more in
the future. But I'm learning to be more in the past and present now,
too.

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