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The Grand Illusion

As long as we buy the lie that Life can be found outside of a moment-by-moment relationship with God, we will determine that our problem is that we simply don’t have enough. If only we had more of whatever we think will meet our needs then we would feel alive.

It’s all a grand illusion.

The Bible refers to this grand illusion as life in “the flesh,” and it’s the main obstacle that keeps us from finding true Life. Our minds are blinded by “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4) so that we keep living as though what is true is false and what is false is true.

When we live as though we were lords of our own life, capable of meeting our own needs, we are living in the flesh. When we treat people, possessions, or achievements as though they were the source of our worth and significance rather than God, we are living in the flesh. In fact, insofar as we live as though God were not present, moment-by-moment, and as though this wasn’t the most important aspect of any present moment, we are living in the flesh.

Living as though God was not our only true source of Life forces us to live most of our life in the past and future—as though the present moment was not the only reality. While the true God lives in the now, false gods always live in the past or the future. Chasing them to find our worth and significance always takes us out of the present moment.

Think about it: How much of your thought-life is spent in the past or future, and what is the purpose for this nonpresent thinking?

When we live perpetually hungry in the flesh, we spend a great deal of our thought-life savoring past experiences or possible future experiences that make us feel more worthwhile and significant. We also spend a great deal of time ruminating over past experiences or worrying about possible future experiences that will make us feel less worthwhile and significant. All the while we are strategizing over how to position ourselves to have more of the worth-giving experiences and how to better avoid the worth-detracting experiences.

Most of us are so accustomed to being hungry for Life and living in the past and the future that we don’t realize that this is what we’re doing. It’s hard for a fish to notice the water it swims in. But the fact of the matter is that we are rarely in the present moment when we’re hungry and chasing after false gods. This is yet another aspect of the grand illusion that entraps us. The very process of trying to acquire Life on our own forces us to miss most of life, for real life is always in the present moment. When we live as though we can acquire Life from things other than God, we inevitably live as though reality wasn’t always in the present moment.

Only a person who is no longer driven by an insatiable hunger can consistently live in the present moment, and only a person who has learned how to find Life in the present moment is no longer driven by this insatiable hunger.

—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 49-52.

Image by Maresa Smith

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