Wherever you are right now, are you all there? Are you aware that God has ordained this very moment in your life for the glory of His name? Are you mindful that you are on this earth “for such a time as this”, (Esther 4:14) to embrace this day for the purposes that God determined before you were born? Are you aware of what is happening around you, providing opportunities that may never present themselves again?
While I have tried to be “all there” in my life I am increasingly aware of the countless, yet subtle, hindrances to being fully present in the moments God has given me. Why is it so tempting to check my phone for messages when I just checked it not long ago? What causes me to think about all I need to do when I am praying with my husband? Why is it so easy to turn to television to escape the realities of life?
In this battle for our minds we must recognize two things: We have a cunning enemy whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy the good things God wants to give and do through us. And our sin nature invokes a restlessness in us that, no matter where we are, can tempt us to wonder if there’s something better that we’re missing. Unless we embrace each moment God has given with thanksgiving, we may miss precious gifts and divine opportunities designed by Him to bring glory to His Name. Consider the following temptations:
1. The temptation to let technology exert power over us: I list this first because I believe it impacts us all far more than we may think. Offering the world at our fingertips, today’s mobile devices have become a one-stop shop giving us instant access to information, family photos, entertainment, shopping, local and international phone service, working remotely, and social media of every kind (Facebook, Twitter, email, texting, Face Time).
This pocket computer has exponentially ramped up the challenge of being “all there”. In the midst of a quiet dinner, a serious conversation, our workday, or an attempt to rest on vacation; one little ding from our phone can tempt us to stop talking, listening, resting, working, singing, or praying, in order to respond to this demanding tyrant. We witness it all around us and I feel the pull of it in my own heart:
- Parents/grandparents at the park talking/texting rather than using the time to enjoy their children and bless them with undivided attention.
- Friends or couples out for dinner checking their cell phones rather than giving focused attention to one another.
- Drivers so focused on their phone conversation that they are oblivious to the line of cars forming behind them.
The gospel reminds us that we are no longer slaves to the world and sin but slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:15-23). It reminds us to redeem the time because people are perishing all around us, perhaps even in our own homes! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can choose to put peoples’ souls above things that make us feel important.
2. The temptation to glorify yesterday: If life once seemed happier than it does now, we may find ourselves reliving the past to the detriment of fully appreciating and embracing the present. Past grievances or traumas can also steal today’s joy when we become convinced that what happened to us now defines us.
The gospel takes us back to the past only to remind us of what we’ve been saved from; that we were once alienated from God, objects of wrath destined for destruction (Ephesians 2). As we remember God’s great mercy in saving us when we were still sinners, we will be awakened more fully to what we’ve been given in Christ for the glory of His name.
3. The temptation to let today’s difficulties and sorrows, or fear of what might happen tomorrow, steal the blessings that God has given us now: When life feels particularly hard it’s easy to start wishing away our days, hoping that tomorrow will bring the relief and happiness we want. When we are simply living to survive each day, or fear what may happen tomorrow, we risk missing the countless gifts God wants to give us right in the place we are. And if we fail to see and embrace those blessings now, they may never be ours to receive again.
The gospel reminds us that suffering is part of this fallen world, while awakening us to the daily kindnesses and provisions of our loving God in the midst of hardship and sorrow. In fact, when we allow ourselves to be fully present in our pain, we will experience gifts of God’s grace we may have missed in less difficult days.
The gospel also assures us that every difficulty will be redeemed for our good when we accept what He has assigned, trust His love, and give thanks always and in everything. It also reminds us that His grace will be sufficient for today’s troubles as well as for whatever tomorrow may bring.
4. The temptation to let busyness and the pull of the world distract us from the eternal work God has prepared for us to do. God’s Word commands us to be careful and watchful because the things of the world appeal to our self-centered flesh. Daily, as we battle for the best use of our time, energy, and resources, we have choices to make.
- Will we jump out of bed and into our own “important” agendas, responding to the tyranny of the urgent and letting our feelings lead our way? Or will we run first to God’s Word, casting ourselves helplessly upon Him, confessing that we’re unable to do anything apart from Him?
- Will we allow conversations to be interrupted, work to be stopped, or our peace to be stolen by the unending and seemingly authoritative demands of social media? Or will we exercise self-control, remembering there is One voice we are to listen to above all others? Will we consider what messages we are communicating to those around us in the moments we are with them?
The gospel reminds us that we were created for relationship, first beholding God’s glory in His Word, and then reflecting that glory to others throughout our day. Anything that hinders us from staying in tune with the Spirit’s voice, doing the work He equips and empowers us to do, or weakens our spiritual desire, should have no place in our lives.
Jesus was fully present in every moment. He looked into people’s eyes and saw their hearts. He had compassion on those who were far from God. John 4:34 gives us insight into our Savior’s single minded focus wherever He was, whatever He was doing. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”
Jesus did whatever God gave Him to do at the moment, but it was doing the will of His Father, rather than selfish ambition or worldly distractions, that motivated and sustained Him.
Whether He was in a crowd or alone, accomplishing His Father’s will was what got Jesus up in the morning, kept Him going when He was tired, and strengthened Him for the cross. I want to live each day like that, don’t you; to be so in tune with the Spirit, that every moment is lived for His glory?
To that end, are you willing to adjust your life to whatever God shows you so that you can be fully present in each moment and do the work He has prepared for you, whether it’s big or small in the world’s eyes? Are you ready to practice the presence of God throughout your day so that you can hear His voice above all others?
- Do you need to put your phone away when you are with others, so that you can given them your full attention?
- Rather than dwelling in the past, will you say with Paul, “…forgetting what lies behind I press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus? (Philippians 3:13-14)
- Instead of allowing trials to steal your joy will you “give thanks in all circumstances,” remembering “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you?” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
- Finally, will you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and rest in knowing that He will provide all that is needed for you to be fully present in the moment rather than you worrying about the future?
God beckons us to be fully present with Him so that we can be fully present wherever He leads us to serve Him. Not only is He worthy of our undivided attention, but only when we have delighted in His presence, will we will be able to reflect His glory in the presence of others.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,
Photo from Corbis Images