When we live in this world and are of this world, we cannot be present to anything, much less access our deeper selves or God or anyone else. There is so much noise in our minds about what we need to do next or our unspoken reaction to what is being said or all the “shoulds” and “have-tos” of our upbringing and what was implanted in us by the culture which still rules us. So, our attention is, at best, about half on what is happening right now and the rest lodges in our minds. As we begin the journey of following Jesus, we will trip over all these intrusions into our ability to be present. One by one, these issues will pop up into our consciousness(led by Jesus). We need to offer them up, one by one, to God for healing, because we are always too immersed in who we think we are to have any perspective on who we were created to become.
As we journey down the road He leads us on, and we continue to offer up to God whatever pain or suffering we have endured or sin we have committed, or our resistance to changing, or any other ego-oriented desire, we will feel the lightness and even joy grow in us as we are relieved of the necessity of hiding the hidden parts of ourselves. Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free”(John 8:31-32) and “my yoke is easy and my burden light”(Matthew 11:28-29). And that is what we experience as we see clearly what has happened in our lives caused by others or ourselves—freedom is delightful as opposed to always trying to hide who we are—even from ourselves.
As we continue the journey, we will find that we are so much more connected to the people we spend time with. Being a part of a community is the nature of human beings and also the nature of the kingdom of God. We are built to give and receive so much in community with others. And then there is the ability to be present to and with God. To hear what He says to us, to feel His presence in our bodies and minds. To actually know that He is with us always, instead of just believing in Him. This is phenomenal, unheard of on this earth, but possible for all of us. As I look back on my life, I can see God’s footprints alongside mine through all those years. I can sense His guidance now even if I was not aware of it at all at the time. I see where other paths intersected with mine and how a whole new chapter starts, a whole new direction becomes obvious—all desired by God for me.
In addition, we can be present to everyone we meet. Instead of half-listening to the person before us, our whole attention can be on each person. And the full attention that we pay to them is received as love by them, that is, God’s love. For we are someone now who is really interested in the person before us.
When our church reopened in 2021 after a year online, I felt so deeply the need to really get to know people in my church, to not just have a brief conversation after the service, but to know where they came from, what their growing up was like, how they came to be in Charlotte, and more. Since that time in 2022, I have been meeting with people in the church for lunch or coffee plus others in my various groups outside the church every week. I am so aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit at these meetings I am having with people in my church and others, walking this same journey as we support each other. It is a wonder-filled blessing to know others deeply and to feel really connected to them. Being present, really attending to what they are saying, seeing why they made the choices they made has been so enriching for me. And I never lose that thread of connectedness.
Questions to ponder over the week: How present am I to God, to my friends, family members, fellow Christians, and others? What so captures my attention that I cannot be present to them? What would I need to give up in order to be present in my life? Do I wonder what that might feel like? To have mind, heart, soul, and body attentive to my life, to the people I am with, to God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are totally present to what is happening, to whomever we are with. May we reap all the benefits of being present, being fully alive to what is, right now.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will email 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.