Have you ever been distracted by the events of the day, worries of the future, or issues in the past to where you can’t really enjoy living in the moment? All the distractions of life can keep us from living and experiencing life as it can be in the Kingdom of God. It can be really challenging, and I can sometimes wonder how can I experience kingdom living while the world seems to be on fire. But I was given a tangible reminder of how to live more fully in the present moment and the reality of being able to experience kingdom living here and now.
An Example of Enjoying the Moment
My wife and I had our granddaughter, Leah, for an overnight stay recently. We always enjoy our time with her. I noticed though that in the midst of our time, that I could easily have my mind and attention diverted to other things. For example, we were at a playground and Leah wanted to swing. So she did, on and on and on! We were in the sun and it was getting quite hot. I became more concerned about finding shade for myself and was tiring of continually pushing Leah in her swing as she repeatedly called me to “push me Papa!”
But then I had a moment of clarity and realized I had been distracted and missed this moment to fully be with my granddaughter. Is there any greater joy than hearing the delight of your grandchild laughing with pleasure and calling you by name? So, I tried to stay in the present moment as much as possible to fully enjoy my time with her, knowing we would be taking her back to her parents and then I would be missing not seeing her!
Restlessness: The roadblock to enjoying the moment
As I reflected on this time with Leah, it made me realize I can do the same thing with God. I can be robbed of the joy of being with my Father with the various distractions of life. If I were to describe all of the distractions of life into a single word, I would use the word restlessness!
Webster’s dictionary provides this description of restlessness:
- Lacking or denying rest: uneasy
- Continuously moving: unquiet
- Characterized by or manifesting unrest especially of mind
I don’t know about you, but all three of those definitions can ring true in my life. This restlessness seems to come naturally and has been evident in my life for along time. I remember going on a spiritual retreat years ago and bought book called “When I Relax I Feel Guilty”. It seems that there is some faulty wiring in my makeup that measures my value and worth to action and movement. I wonder if this was a problem the Israelites struggled with as well. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 30:15 which starts off wonderfully talking about resting with God but ends with the admonition that Israel didn’t want it.
How crazy is that? God desires to deliver us from our restlessness. He invites us to a wonderful place of rest and depending on Him and as a result we experience strength and a quiet confidence. Who could turn down such an invitation? And yet… “you are not willing”. Some translations say “you would have none of it”.
Learning to Enjoy the Moment with God
I was reading a book recently by Gary Moon and David Benner called Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls. In the book the following question was posed:
“Could it be that it [the process of spiritual formation] is simply becoming aware that God is everywhere and then learning how to be with him-in the presence of divine love?”
We can become busy with a lot of good things and many times this busyness can be in an effort to show our love for God. Yet, if we are honest sometimes our motivation is more to fill the deeper need in our life to experience value and worth. Sometimes we end up doing too much out of a desire to meet this need. Jesus beckons us to “come away for a while and rest” (Mark 6:31). The question is: are we willing?
Even now this is still a struggle for me. I recently “retired” from my role as a counselor at our church, sensing God leading me into doing more ministry around spiritual formation, retreats, and spiritual direction. I hear His voice calling me like He did to the Israelites in Isaiah 30:15 and yet that part of me that wants to know the plan so we can get moving now! And yet as I am resting, I am beginning to hear from God but I needed to be in a place of rest to really listen. And in the rest, I am experiencing His love and mercy, gaining a quiet confidence that only comes from being with Him. At times I am beginning to hear God say to me “Be still and know me” (Psalm 46:10). So, in the weeks ahead as I continue in this transition season, I want to focus more in the moment and not so much on needing to know the grand plans of the future.
Webster defines moment as “a minute portion or point of time” and “present time”. Life is filled with a myriad of ordinary moments each and every day. Its impossible and unrealistic to be present all of the time. But what if we were present with Jesus in some of those ordinary moments. In those moments, we can remind ourselves of the blessing to be a beloved son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. We can remind ourselves of a promise of God to us. Or we can sit in silence in the moment in reverent awe of the majesty and glory of God. I think the enemy just wants to keep us busy enough or focused on the past or future and miss these wonderful present moments with our Father. I sure didn’t want to miss a moment with my granddaughter. Every moment is such a blessing. I need to cultivate that same practice when it comes to my Father. Every moment with Him is such a blessing.