The Sacrament of the Present Moment

“[W]e grow in our knowledge of Christ-with-us by, first of all, constant expectation of him in the place where we are, wherever that may be. ‘The sacrament of the present moment,’ as it is sometimes called, is from the human side nothing but the invocation, expectation, and receptivity of God’s presence and activity where we are and in what we are doing at any given time. Then we steadily grow in graceful interactions with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They gradually take up all of our life into their trinitarian life (John 17:21–24).

Among the many misunderstandings Jesus had to counteract in his teaching was the one that held the kingdom to be some gigantic event in some special place. This was human thinking about human kingdoms, which always fit that description. He was constantly faced with people who wanted to know when the kingdom of God was coming. When is the big commotion? He patiently replied that the kingdom of God was not that kind of thing. It was simply God reigning, governing. It is not a special event you could see happening over here or possibly over there. ‘Now look,’ he said, ‘the kingdom of God is right here among you’ (Luke 17:20–21, paraphrase). His main sermon line was: ‘Get a new thought! The kingdom of the heavens is available to you from right where you are!’ (Matt. 4:17, paraphrase).

from Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge by Dallas Willard

One of the greatest temptations in the spiritual life is to always be expecting God’s activity, but in some undefined future setting. I love the idea of the sacrament of the present moment, that the kingdom of God is here and now because God is actively working here and now.

Where you are right now is where God wants you to be and where God wants to use you in this very moment. And God specializes in using people just like you.

 

 

Being Present to the Present

sunrise_earth

A few years ago, I bought a set of DVDs called Sunrise Earth. They are exactly what you think they are. Each program is 50 minutes of spectacular sunrises in some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., captured without any additional music or commentary. In short, the filmmakers let nature speak for itself.

I confess that I haven’t really watched any of these until very recently. I even forgot I had them.

But I rediscovered them and found myself watching the beauty of nature unfold. Instantly, I was in North Maine at Kidney Pond, watching a mother moose with her calf cavorting in the water. I could literally feel my blood pressure falling and a feeling of calm and serenity coming over me.

I confess. Too often, I don’t see the nature in front of me because I’m too focused on where I have to be on Wednesday or something coming up on Sunday. I fret and I worry about what may or may not happen in the future or what could or should have happened in the past.

I can’t change either one of those. I can choose to live in this present moment and be alive to all that God is unveiling before me. I can choose to look out my window and see the sunset (or God forbid, actually forklift myself out of bed at the ungodly crack of dawn to witness a sunrise).

I can also choose to be thankful for the moment I’m living in. I can decide that I don’t want to be so obsessed over the future and the past that I miss this present. Jesus said that tomorrow will take care of itself. And that God will take care of you when that tomorrow comes. It won’t make one bit of difference if you worry or not, because fretting over the future won’t change one iota of it.

So I’m going to continue to be a broken record and say that I want to be fully present to where God has me right now, whether it’s everything I hoped it would be or not. I can look down at empty hands and see all that I am missing out on or I can see those hands as ready to receive all that God is preparing for me in a future that is so much bigger and wilder than anything I could ever dream of on my own. It’s all about my perspective.

It’s my choice. It’s your choice, too.