Imaginary Tomorrows and Empty Yesterdays
December 29 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Meredith Wilson’s, “The Music Man,” was one of the all-time most popular Broadway-type musicals. It involved the story of a fly-by-night flimflam man who bilked small town people out of money by promising to create a boy’s band. In one town after another, once he had gotten financial backing, he would skip town before a single note was played. That is, until he got to River City, where he met and fell in love with a librarian named Marian.

Overall “The Music Man” was an energetic musical comedy with a lot of toe-tapping songs that were very memorable, though they contained little substance — except for one memorable line, that is.

Professor Harold Hill was offering his genuine love to Marian the librarian, but she wasn’t certain that it was the real thing. She was always looking to the future, so much so that she never got around to living for today. Hill said to her, “You pile up a lot of tomorrows and you’ll find you’ve also collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

Isn’t this what lots of people are doing today? Those who are always looking wistfully in the direction of tomorrows run the risk of missing out on the joys of today. In piling up tomorrows they soon learn they have also collected lots of empty yesterdays.

If we knew all the good things contained in our tomorrows, we would likely be so excited that we would overlook the responsibilities and opportunities that come our way today. And if we knew the bad things our future contained we would likely be paralyzed with worry or grief. 

Isn’t this what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).

The apostle Paul underscores this truth by saying, “Be very careful, then how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). In other words, let us not be so preoccupied with what happened in our yesterdays or could possibly happen in our tomorrows that you miss the joy of living today. 

Every year we have lived in the past has contained both successes and failures. There are no exceptions to this. Let us be grateful for the successes we have had and learn from the mistakes we have made.  It is the wisest way to move forward. The author of the book of Proverbs expresses it this way, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:25-27, NIV).

If you ask God, He will guide you one day at a time. This is the only way to keep from piling up imaginary tomorrows and collecting empty yesterdays.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)      
12/29/2010 1:37:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments

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