Following Jesus means that we will at some point be able to experience the presence of God and to be present to whatever is happening right now in our lives. To be present means that we are free to just be and to enjoy what is happening right now, to be able to clearly see the people before us and what we need and what they need. When we can live in the present, we are living in God’s presence. Until we are able to live in the present, we live in this in-between state that means we’re mostly in the world, affected by its claims on us, our own poor self-image, and unresolved problems that we have closed ourselves off from so that we wouldn’t have to experience our own suffering. In this state of being we are buffeted by all the problems within us and around us, living in anxiety and fear, and unaware of our own true selves. We are unable to be at peace, to experience what is going on right now in our lives, because we are so tied to the past.
The biggest things that stand in our way of experiencing the presence of God and this present moment are unresolved grief from past suffering, our poor self-image, and our own self-absorption which is caused by those old, unresolved sufferings. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted [Mattthew 5:4].” What our journeys with Jesus are bound to bring up in us are these old issues that we tried to forget, because the pain was too great. As each issue becomes conscious, we can pray for help in facing this issue and for Jesus to heal this issue in us. As we journey along, facing more and more issues, as we experience the lightness and freedom that His healing brings, and as that freedom accumulates in us, our self-absorption diminishes.
At last, we are able to sense God’s presence, to hear what He is saying to us, to move along the path He has chosen for each of us towards the fulfillment of our purpose in this lifetime. Jesus’s suggestions for us might be a sentence spoken in our minds that clearly is not one of our thoughts or it might be a suggestion from a friend of a book to read which resonates in us or it might just be a snapshot of what to do or a nudge to go this way or to try that. As we agree to follow these suggestions, then our lives really do change and we can really experience joy and purpose and freedom from all the burdens we have carried all these years.
To be present in our lives, to experience God’s presence is the goal and the highest point of our lives. Nothing else will ever fulfill us—there is no material thing, no trip, no job, nothing that can do that—those are just substitutes for the real thing. Experiencing life in the present moment is to be truly and totally alive. Along the way, our purpose will be revealed to us which fulfills God’s understanding of our very existence on this Earth.
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I experienced God’s presence? What was that like for me? Am I able to be present to whatever is happening or am I so consumed with my own needs that I can’t see the other people clearly or sense what God is asking of me right now? What would it take for me to be present? To be free of the past, of the self-absorption.
Blessing for the week May we be the people of God who can be present to life and to the people before us. May we attune ourselves to what God is asking of us right now. May we each live at peace and in joy.
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- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.