The Present Moment: from nowhere to now here
The only place, the only time, we are able to encounter God, experience God, is in the present moment. We are creatures of time, stuck in this present moment unable to travel to the past or the future. It is in the now here of this moment that we live. It is only in the now here of this moment that we are able to know Jesus, experience Jesus, and walk with Jesus. This is our moment and in this moment the question forever remains the same - will I open to God and self or will I turn my thoughts and expend my energies to escape this moment, its pain, discomfort, unanswerable questions, and the opportunity to experience God and learn about myself.
The present moment offers the occasion to come to know God and myself in new ways if I have an open heart and internal space. When we are not able to be present to the now of the present moment it often feels like we are nowhere, that this moment is meaningless, that we are wasting time, we grow impatient and an assortment of emotions begin to churn within us, growing and intensifying with each failed attempt to escape the perceived meaninglessness, even hopelessness, of this present moment.
When we choose to embrace the present moment, it is a choice to face reality as it is. It can be overwhelmingly joyous or excruciatingly difficult. So what must be remembered is that it is only as we live in the now here, the present moment, that we can experience the presence of God, the grace of God, the love of God. It is as we live in the now here we are more likely to hear God, see God, touch God and be touched by God. The now here is the place of encounter, a place where the truth of who God is can be experienced, and the only place where we can be molded and shaped into Christlikeness.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote a book dealing with this important perspective entitled, Abandonment to the Present Moment/Sacrament of the Present Moment. His premise is that God’s will for us is discovered and lived into in the moment that we find ourselves – the present moment, the now here of our lives.
Benefits of being in the present moment, the now here of our experience:
- It makes room for listening to God, ourselves, others and learning, discovering new truths about each
- It provides space to feel
- It opens us up to greater awareness of God, ourselves and others
- It gives us freedom to fully enter into life, the life God is offering in that moment
- It grows our faith so we are able to be more alive, active and in tune with God, ourselves, others and the unfolding events of our life
- It enables us to be aware of God’s presence in each moment; of his partnership with us. We are not alone.
- It expands our perception: experiencing a more panoramic, all-inclusive awareness.
- It enhances responsiveness: a natural, flowing responsiveness that deals with the situation of the moment spontaneously and incisively.
- It leads to greater self-knowledge: noticing not only what is around oneself, but what is within as well. More of what had been unconscious has become conscious.
- It helps us to journey with others in powerfully impacting and life-giving ways.
- It is the only place we are able to truly experience love and to truly love others.
Commenting on the present moment Jean-Pierre de Caussade states that “the present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs. The more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean that the heart only fathoms in so far as it overflows with faith trust and love.”
Ways to do this:
The first and foremost way of doing this is by creating internal space in your heart. This is done by owning the twin truths about who God is and who you are as the beloved of God. This internal awareness of the power, love, grace, faithfulness of God as well as God’s personal involvement of God in your life as the ever present Presence with you, within you, combined with a foundational identity as the beloved of God, one who God delights in and loves loving in this very moment, creates the space needed to not immediately react, the ability to be proactive rather than reactive that is key. For this internal space creates the ability to connect with God, connect with self, reminding ourselves who God is and who we are as a child of God and that these are the only realities that truly matter. Then we are able to see and enter into the unfolding circumstances in “spontaneously incisive and simple ways of love and faith that give birth to wholly new and astonishing responses to the entire setting of life.” (Thomas Kelly) This little internal space transforms the agonizing realities that accompany feeling like we are nowhere into the spacious freedom of owning the now here of the moment which is pregnant with opportunities to know and experience God and self in new and deeper ways and to live Jesus.
As we seek to escape the prison that is nowhere and embrace the freedom to be and become that is found in the now here of the present moment it is important to keep the following in mind:
1. Remember God loves you with an everlasting, nothing-can-separate-you-from love AND that God is forever faithful, powerful, full of grace and mercy.
2. Recall that God is with you, God is in control and God can and does bring good out of every situation.
3. Name the truth that Jesus is present with you and within you.
4. Let go of any illusions that you are in control and the temporal future is the place you will find and experience happiness.
5. Embrace right now as the time and place to BE and to experience God and self seeking to trust God and trust the process.
As we gradually develop the ability to be present to the present moment and see it as a place of challenge, invitation and encounter with God and self then we will be able to begin to embody the twin petitions of the Lord’s prayer – Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – and discover as Jacob did that
“Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it”.
I cannot begin to tell you the conversations I have had, the times I have prayed with people, the rest and refreshment I have experienced when I was able to see a disruption to my plans as a gift/opportunity to experience God, myself and others. As we are able to be present to the moment rather than trying to escape it, control it or bemoan it, we can escape the feelings of meaninglessness, the feelings of being helpless, hopeless and the other emotions like anger, frustration and impatience that may very well arise; instead we are able to walk through the now here with God even though it may be dark and foreboding. God is with us, God is within us, loving us into this moment, full of power, wisdom and grace, is for us in ways that we cannot begin to fathom. This knowledge when combined with the deep knowing that we are the beloved of God, our life is hidden in Christ and nothing can or will ever separate us from God frees us to hear from God and walk with God freely, lightly, embracing the unforced rhythms of God’s grace come what may.
For you see the difference between nowhere and now here is just a little space, a little space that frees us from the confines of our circumstances and enables us to know, experience and interact with God, ourselves and others in transforming and life giving ways – a little space that changes everything.
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