Learning to be Present

Someone recently asked me how to experience God more fully—more intimately. They said that God felt distant. And life, well, it was a mess.

I know that feeling.

And while we fear those moments, while those moments make us feel like a bad Christian, I believe those moments provide us with a unique opportunity to truly encounter something divine.

Those moments provide us an opportunity to be present.

The question is, will we make that choice?

My Greatest Struggle

As a young child, I remember daydreaming about the moment when I would have my driver’s license or when I would graduate from high school. As a young professional, I lived for more income or that moment when I would achieve a promotion. As a young father, I longed for the day when my boys would be out of diapers or when they would sleep through the night. As a young author, I remember hoping for the day when my book would be a bestseller or when I would really be able to impact people.

Curiously, I have always felt an equally strong, but opposite temptation.

I miss the innocence of Little League baseball and the childless freedom of my early twenties. I reminisce about my physical stature as a competitive triathlete or the simplicity in fewer bills. I wish that my boys would simply rest in their father’s arms like they used to. I relish in past successes at work.

This constant tension—to live in the future or to live in the past—is at the root of my greatest struggle.

Why is it so hard to be present?

I believe the answer is simple. I believe that there is an Enemy who wages war against us. If we’re allowed to be present, we commune with our Creator. As long as we’re living in the past or in the future, we remain in the Dark.

A Moment in Time

Just last night, my wife took one of our twins with her to the grocery store, leaving me with our other two sons. They became enamored with a television show. My temptation was to go get something done. But I made a simple choice. A choice to be present with them.

Before I knew it, both of them were cuddled up on the couch with me, resting their heads on my opposite shoulders.

The busyness and craziness faded away into the silence of that moment. In that moment, I felt a touch of eternity—a father being present with his sons.

It reminded me of a favorite quote:

“The present is that place where time touches eternity.” – C. S. Lewis

I believe God seems distant to so many of us and life seems less-than-whole because the modern day plague of our culture is the abandonment of the here and now. We eagerly trade every gift of the present for some far-off future promise—we live in constant pursuit of the rainbow’s end. Or, we abandon the opportunity of the present for the regret or over-indulgence of the past.

Inevitably, we spend our days relishing the past or relentlessly chasing our future. The Enemy laughs.

It’s no wonder God seems distant.

By actively choosing to live in the past or in the future, we are making the choice to miss out on the eternal.

Today, don’t rob yourself of the Divine. Be present.

Here are a few things that have helped me in my own life.

Richness and rest and intimacy and peace and contentment and joy can only be found in the present.

Be present, today.

MH

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  • Learning how to be present in this world that pulls us in so many directions. Olivia has helped with that. And when I get preoccupied and somehow drift off, then I feel like I’ve missed it. So glad that God keeps giving us more and more opportunities.

  • Matt, this is so powerful. I keep trying to slow time down and haven’t figured how. I love the list.

  • Steve Long

    Right on Matt! Cherish the present! Just yesterday my 26 yr old son called me at the office out of the blue and said “Dad you want to go to lunch?”. That moment of the present brought back loving memories of the past and affirmation of the future because of a lifetime of commitment and love! Carpe diem

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