Last weekend I had the privilege of visiting my son, Ryan, in Oklahoma City. It was a quick trip, but such a sweet blessing. We went to lunch at an outdoor café, sat in the shade, enjoyed the cool breezes, and caught up on life. We walked through lovely neighborhoods with sidewalks, old mansions, huge trees, parks with lots of flowers and talked about God, friendships, church, work, and challenges. We took pics of trees, mushrooms, and a bunny. We sat out by his apartment pool and read and napped. I got to visit his church and meet his friends. We went for dinner with someone special and afterwards visited his favorite ice cream shop. (The lemon poppy seed paleo ice cream was fantastic!) We met up with another of his friends for breakfast and I enjoyed catching up with him. We prayed together, reconnected, invited others in, and had a blast! Several things were conspicuously missing and it was so very refreshing! Those things would be the phone and the tv.
Ryan is intentional about being present and invested when he is with someone. It is refreshing to be around such intentionality. He rarely takes phone calls, surfs the internet, or texts when with someone. He doesn’t have a tv and does other things with his evenings and weekends. We have talked some about this and when I asked him for blog suggestions, he said, “Why don’t you write a blog about the importance of BEING PRESENT?” So, here goes…
The God of the universe Himself knows us intimately and is everywhere at all times. Psalm 139 says: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalms 139:1, 3-12 ESV).
However, as humans, we are limited by time and space, just as Jesus chose to be when He walked this earth before His resurrection. In Philippians 2, The Message reads like this: "Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death - the worst kind of death at that, a crucifixion." Christ chose to sacrifice and to be present in this world. He lived in a certain locality and he put down roots through relationships and discipleship, which still bear fruit to this day.
Even though we are not all knowing or present everywhere, often we try to be. Being constantly enmeshed with the phone, television, and internet, in some ways is like trying to be everywhere at once, know everything about everyone, and give our input to everyone and no-one. Trying to be everywhere and know everything leads to stress and disconnection. I have heard it said that modern technology has birthed the most connected, yet disconnected generation ever. God made us for so much more. We can not redo the past or control the future; yet we can certainly accept the limitations of the here and now, investing well and loving those God has placed in front of us - in this place and at this moment.
God wants us to live for Him in the present, to be people of peace in times of turmoil and chaos. He has placed us when and where He intended in time and space and He desires for us to "be rooted and grounded in love". He calls each of His children to offer His love and presence to this world, as we walk through the minutes and seconds of every day. We have the opportunity to be a prayerful presence, to look people in the eye, smile, listen, connect, and allow Jesus to shine through our life, drawing others to His peace and love. Wherever you are, be all THERE! After all, His presence RIGHT NOW is what infuses life with grace.
I love Paul's prayer for us in Ephesians 3:14-19: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
May each of us daily model our life after of that of Christ, who stayed focused on the task at hand, living a fully present life, with the goal to love others well that they might be drawn to the Heavenly Father, and be able to experience truly abundant life. Jesus said in John 10:10, "... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Let us keep our eyes open to ways to extend God's love in the midst of EACH AND EVERY MOMENT God grants us!