At the beginning of 2014, we were challenged by our church to ask God for a word for the year. I know for some of those that participated, their word was usually an area that needed some fine tuning, an area that God had put His finger on to press deeper into trusting Him. Be Present was the ‘word’ I felt that God impressed upon me and ironically (or not) this has been an area of challenge this year more than ever before.
Present – being, existing or occurring at this time or now, current.
It seems like a simple concept doesn’t it? Be present, stay in the moment, enjoy what is happening now. I feel that I have tried so hard to engage in the present moments that I am missing them. The late author, Louis L’Amour described my dilemma well, “Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”
I often joke that I have the spiritual gifts of organizing and filling in where help is needed. Being a scheduler makes it difficult for me not to always look ahead. I realized recently that my anal retentive desire to plan stems from a lack of trusting in God. Initially in my early adult life, not trusting God was because I did not know Him or that I could. Once I did know Him I didn’t learn how to steward my gift and it kept me more independent and not totally present to letting the Spirit lead me. I was leaning on my own strength instead of trusting God to guide me.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6
Wait, wait, ALL your heart and ALL your ways? Lean not on my own understanding, But Lord, I understand my understanding…And then I read it again and thankfully it does not say, Trust in Deanna with all your heart. And He reminds me, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9.
I don’t think that Peter was trusting in himself when he said to Jesus in the middle of the night, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the storm, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” and Jesus, despite his foreknowledge that Peter would take his eyes off of him and sink, said, “Come.” Matthew 14:28,29. Jesus met Him in the present moment, Peter was so desperate to go where Jesus was that He was willing to jump off the boat for Him. At that moment, Peter was trusting in the Lord with All of his heart.
It is in the moments that we learn to trust. Perhaps being present is acknowledging Him in all that we do, all we encounter, in all situations good or bad. A synonym for present is to be available, my scheduling, planning and structure is the boat that keeps me from not stepping out and allowing Him to work. I say this with understanding that some scheduling is crucial sometimes to keep a little order in the chaos of life. When I overschedule though, it allows no room to be stepping out of the boat and being available to the present things God would have me do.
What is your boat? Is your heart so desperate for Jesus that you will jump out of the boat? If not, what is keeping you there? Take some time and ask Him if He wants you to come. Are you being present to the fleeting moments of your life in your own strength or God’s?
The song Oceans by Hillsong United was inspired by Peter’s story, perhaps it will encourage you to step out of your boat. It certainly is challenging me to be present in the presence of my Saviour.