Yesterday at church my pastor ended his sermon with one simple point: Be Present.
About a month before that at a Christmas party, my friend had written on her chalkboard wall: Be Present.
A couple of weeks before that Christmas party, right after Thanksgiving, I wrote a post titled: Be Present.
In the hustle and bustle of all things Christmas and giveaways and recipes on our blog, I put that particular post on hold. Beth and I often comment to each other that posts are like gold to us, so since we had a lot going on, it was best that I left that post for a different day. Today feels like that day.
You see, I have a picture saved on my iPhone camera roll that simply states, “Be Present”. For a long time it was saved as my home screen. It served as a reminder to be present wherever I was when I picked up my phone to peruse twitter or facebook in the moment instead of engaging with the friends right in front of my face. To get off my dang phone, if you will.
Lately I’ve had the urge to travel. I’m equal parts homebody and sanguine, if that even makes sense, but I’ve been dreaming of all the places I hope to visit one day, whether it be sooner or later. Traveling is not only thrilling because you get to see different wonders of the world, but also because it’s neat to witness different cultures and the way people live. It’s fascinating, really. However, I have what we would all refer to as a job, and responsibilities and limited funds, so mostly I wish and hope and dream. Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, right?
The day after Thanksgiving, we always join some of our best friends out in the country for a day of skeet shooting and relaxing. It’s one of my favorite traditions. Each year, I’m more stunned by the beauty of autumn. Instead of using your imagination, allow me to give you a peak into the picture I’m trying to paint.
Beauty at its finest.
Houstonians actually received a bit of a gift when autumn showed up in Houston, albeit late, but leaving the trees colorful and enchanting. I was so shocked that I surveyed my coworkers because I didn’t know if I was just coming alive to nature this year or if it did seem a bit unusual, and most agreed it was an unusual change of colors and that made me feel better about myself.
This is what I’m talking about.
I know you people up north are probably laughing at this lone tree, but none of us were complaining!
The truth is, a lot of us get more screen time than we do nature time. We (read: I) am very guilty of that here, where we are not blessed with rolling hills, blankets of snow, mountains and white sandy beaches. Houston, to put it frankly, is not so easy on the eyes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate beauty that is around me, to be present where I’m planted, even in the urge to travel and see different beauty.
The truth is, it’s necessary to have a change of scenery every now and then. A change of season. We can get stuck in the mundane day-to-day tasks that the beauty around us starts to fade leaving us to look at our screens and computers for a rush.
I think that’s part of my travel bug as of late. As far as vacation is concerned, it’s been about a year a half since I spent a significant amount of time away from Houston just resting, so I’m sensing the need for change.
My struggle isn’t necessarily confined to my surroundings though, sometimes my struggle is being present in the season the Lord has me planted in. Because life is at our fingertips via our smart phone, it’s easy to get restless, bored, discontent, angry, impatient, jealous or antsy. We may think the Lord is moving far too slow, when He’s really telling us to slow down. Life doesn’t begin in the next season, or the next milestone, or the next job, or the next relationship, life is happening now, whether you’re looking for it or not.
None of us know what the next season holds in our lives. Seasons in our lives, though they do come and go, aren’t as predictable as the seasons in our weather patterns. I don’t know what the Lord is saying to you, but I know without a doubt He’s telling me to enjoy and be present in my season. That He would be present in my presence, so as to change me. That I would approach Him confidently proclaiming who He is instead of always asking for something. After all, He’s always provided everything I need. To not get wrapped up and entangled in the disappointment, the fear, the joys, the sorrows; to feel those and to experience those emotions as they come, yes, but to be present, to know truth and to be aware but not pining for what’s ahead.
Recently I read in one of my devotionals that for the waters to reflect the glory of God, they have to be still. I’m a very visual person and fortunately, days before that when I was out in the country I happened to witness just that. The lake was completely still and it mirrored the clouds and trees perfectly. It was a beautiful reflection, times two.
I think we could all learn a thing or two from that, because maybe it’s the same for us. Whatever season we find ourselves in, maybe if we were still long enough to take in and try and hear all the Lord was trying to whisper to us in the here and now, maybe we’d be able to reflect His glory a little more instead of fighting it. Oh, that we would let our lives be a refelction of His love. It’s hard, yes, but it’s possible. And then when that change in season does come, whenever it shows up, we praise God for it. Because a change in season, however it comes, is something to be praised.
May I challenge us all to be more present in 2014? Because maybe, just maybe, He has a gift for us in the present. Maybe the gift is more of Himself. And as sure as the sun rises, my sister, He will be faithful.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23: 1-3, 6