Be. Here. Now.

"God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious." --Oswald Chambers for July 28th

When I was a stinky hippy (and I do mean stinky because this girl didn't shave her pits at one time) I had two friends named Mike and Jeremy. They were inseparable and completely attached at the hip. So much so that their names became one whenever I told people who I was hanging out with: MikeN'Jer. I know that God protected me through my time with them, even though it was one of the least wholesome times of my life. I actually learned something of value with them, too.

The reason I bring this up is because of a book I read that belonged to Mike. It was a very New Age, very 'hippie' book called "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass. Now, before you run with the notion that I've lost it to a faux-Hindu worldview, I bring you to my point: The title of the book. I didn't get much further than that in understanding the purpose of the publication. I really wasn't interested in the yoga and the meditation on my naval and all that nonsense. But I did see the value of embracing the moment. 
While there isn't much good living in a vacuum of a few seconds or even an hour, a day holds so much that God can make a thousand years out of it. I'm glad for the influence of MikeN'Jer when it came to appreciating every tiny little thing. We didn't get much done or feel very complete in our depravity, but we did have loads of fun together. Now I find myself paying close attention to the "small things" and pulling all the meaning out of each moment. It is really the way of the child...
When I have a destination in mind I am out the door and in the van before my body even reaches those places. So it frustrates me when my three-year-old girl and 19-month-old boy take more than thirty seconds to cross the porch and then get caught up in the intricacies of a dandelion seedhead. I reach boiling point, standing there in mid-motion, stuck in a child's world-sized moment while in my mind I am already driving to my first errand. No wonder I get so upset with them! I am trying to keep up with the demands of the day and I am missing the peaceful opportunities that would bring me fuel for the journey. Be. Here. Now. It is a discipline that is only perfected when we forget about the ticking clock and let God keep the pace of our day. The destination is of little importance if we miss life in the meantime.
How many times have you heard someone say, "Enjoy it now, because it goes by so fast!"? Sometimes I want to respond, "No it doesn't." Not when I am in toddler time! Because while my child needs to obey me when it's truly time to hurry, I also need to obey God when it's time to slow down. Is it really that urgent that I get to the Post Office five minutes earlier? Have I left enough time in the day for my children to see more than a blur of each place we go? What am I teaching them about life when I let stress propel me from task to task? 

Be. Here. Now. The present is where we experience God's presence. 


Unto the Lord

Mahalia Jackson
I admit, I get caught up in the talent contest shows. Just yesterday I was folding laundry, singing Mahalia Jackson songs and imagining myself in front of a mean Englishman who sits smugly to judge my abilities. It occurred to me how nerve-racking that would be. Then they would show a backstage interview of me saying something like, "I've dreamed of this all my life!" or "This is the most important day for me!" and I would head out amid cheers and assessing eyes...

Pause. Rewind. What did I say backstage? Where is my heart? What is the most important day of my life? I realized right there folding toddler p.j.s that I had the wrong audience in mind. Sure, I would love to show the world how amazing a Christian's voice can be and how I would use my influence for the Lord's work and all that, but who am I trying to please? They would eat me alive if I tried to satisfy them. Next thing you know they are showing a clip of me crying and walking away from the camera, rejected just like the other ninety percent.

God stepped into my mini-fantasy and lifted my chin to squint at His throne. The light was almost blinding and His presence overwhelming. But the joy flooded in and I started smiling immediately. In my heart I began to sing for my King. Where was the fear of rejection? Where were the ignorant and unpleasant faces ready to present me with their verdict? So far away and lost in the goodness and acceptance of my Lord. But there was a new feeling, too. I was starstruck and felt a little silly. Here I am singing for God! My voice is so inadequate but I love it. It is something He made and He also delights in it. As the song led my voice into loud and soulful bursts of worship, I felt my heart lighten and my fears dissolve. Why hadn't I truly been singing for Him this whole time? Perhaps it was because my heart truly longed for someone else's audience and approval. Now that I know I can please God with my voice, maybe I will offer Him a concert more often. Maybe it will ALWAYS be unto Him.



"Believing is such a delicate thing. Doubt is just like belief because it is fed by thoughts and meditations of the heart. When food for doubt tries to enter, it is our obligation as Christians to reject it. Food for belief is to be sought after then cultivated, grown then harvested, eaten then shared at the table of love. Do not forsake the gatherings because there we are fed the food of faith and our belief is nurtured and gains strength. If doubt tries to corrupt the mind then we've only to seek God's face more passionately. Wrap yourself around His arm through the dark storm of disillusionment and deception. Belief is commanded."

I wrote the above passage in my journal today because I have been battling some unusual thoughts. I go through seasons when the enemy attacks me with deep doubts about the existence of God. It's almost tempting to forget the fourteen years I've spent seeking the truth and finding God through manifestations of Christ all around me. When I am caught up in the moment and start to entertain the nonsense of altered realities out of sheer boredom, I am treading on dangerous ground. It's almost as if I have come to the edge of the path and the darkness and emptiness in a world without God is so horrible it is almost sickly fascinating. There are some beautiful-looking things dancing in the distance and I dare to squint and take a small step forward out of curiosity. I pause, remembering that the Lord in His merciful love has already solved that mystery for me: they are nothing but corpses blowing in the wind. While the God-created wind is beautiful, there is nothing enticing about death. That's all there is whenever I smell the air of doubt that blows across my mind. That split second when you think it might be someone barbecuing and then you realize it's burnt hair you smell, that's doubt. It ain't no barbecue.

Father, please purge all doubt from me with Your gentle yet powerful moving hand. My dream is to see You in every moment of my day, having Your presence fill every inhale and expressing Your joy with every exhale. Please let me never look away from Your face, no matter what storm may be raging around me. Amen.