Source: Jan Johnson
This Present Moment
Today – even this moment – may be the day “the Lord has made” (Ps 118:24), but a lot of us are living elsewhere.
Jesus, who knew the psalms well, may have been thinking of that phrase when he said: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.” He seemed to know that we are tempted not to live in this present moment but in the future because he concluded with, “Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt 6:34,The Message).
Instead of living in this present moment, we inhabit:
- The Future – tasks I need to do, whom I need to talk to, that difficult appointment tomorrow, expectations about events and people and wondering if these expectations will be met.
- The Past – what was said to me that was hurtful or compliments that made me feel really good (sometimes too self-focused), words or actions or even purchases or decisions I could regret, who or what disappointed me.
- Fantasy – what I would like to say to someone but never will, what I’d like to see happen but there’s no concrete evidence that it will ever happen.
Living in these other moments do not help me abide in Christ. To find contentment in the present moment is to hang out with God right now, relish and adore the companion of my soul and not sweat the rest. It’s to turn each of those future/past/fantasy thoughts into a prayer for someone.
Living in the present moment is such a practical, down-to-earth, every day way to practice the presence of God. In Abide in Christ, Andrew Murray says that “the little word now is one of the deepest secrets of the life of faith…” Someone responded to Andrew by saying, “Whatever the surrounding circumstances might be, all I have to do is hold still, and rest and realize ‘Jesus saves me now,’ and for that moment I have what I need.” “Saves ” comes from sozo meaning healing, deliverance, wholeness. You and I are invited into healing and wholeness in this moment.
Even more practically, God’s will for me in the present moment is to:
- rejoice always
- pray without ceasing
- give thanks in all circumstances
(for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thess 5:16-18).
When I do these things in this present moment, the rest of God’s will isn’t quite so fuzzy.
Maybe this “present moment” secret is why the command, “Behold!”, occurs so often in the Christmas text. As Mary was told “Behold!” by the angel, she knew to stop, pause, slow down and look! Look deeply and listen deeply! Living in this present moment may have kept her from worrying about the future (I will always be shunned for becoming pregnant without being married) or glorying in the past (I must have done some cool things to be chosen for this!) She got the idea, and answered the angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 2:31, 36, 38, KJV).
So all day long I can ask, What would it look like to love God in this present moment? What would it look like to love the person in front of me in this present moment? Living this way is so much easier, so much more joyful.
Each moment is a gift of God to be with God.
Jan Johnson is a writer, speaker and spiritual director in southern California