nowhere or now/here

Advent CandleI believe God is trying again to make it clear to me that the most valuable moments are not the ones in the “good ol’ days” or in the looked-forward-to future.

Two readings have emphasized this to me lately. The first one is from Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I borrowed the audiobook from a friend and listened to the first chapter again today. I won’t attempt to outline the entire chapter here, but I can summarize his point. He effectively argues that our instincts are often right because our mind subconsciously picks up on clues in an instant, before we are consciously aware of why we “have a hunch.” It was a reminder to me that each moment is full of clues about Truth. If I am mindlessly moving through my day, I miss the daily reading of the Word that nature and relationships provide.

The second passage which prompted my thoughts was from Brennan Manning, in his book Ruthless Trust. There is an excellent chapter titled “The Geography of Nowhere” in which he challenges us to consider the significance of every moment while we are in the moment. Here’s one key passage:

“Now/here spells nowhere. To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is to pitch a tent in the wilderness of Nowhere. It is an act of radical trust––trust that God can be encountered at no other time and in no other place than the present moment. Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life.”

Today is a Sunday, and it’s Christmas Eve. I’m not “looking forward” to Christmas for once. I’m going to church with Krista to bask in the rays of God’s Advent light as we worship with God’s now/here community. I’m sure that the future will beckon for our attention throughout the day. We need to make plans, schedule events, and prioritize our activities. There is no inherent fault in those things, but an over-attention to the future invites worry into our lives as we think through every what-if scenario, wondering if we will lose control when unforeseen factors come into play. Most importantly, it steals us away from the value of the now and here.

I am also going to resist the urge to get lost in nostalgia as we sing triumphant Christmas songs that I remember singing as a kid. I will seek to be fully present in worship with God’s people, not lost in a idealized rememberance of yesteryear. “If you glorify the past, the future dries up,” Bono once sang. I suspect that glorifying the past can result in the drying up of the present, too.

2 responses to “nowhere or now/here

  1. Beautifully put and so true. I’m hanging out in this same place with you, longing to be present, now, here. Consider this quote from “Screwtape Letters.”

    Screwtape tells Wormwood:
    “The humans live in time but our Enemy [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity iself and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. [Our enemy] would therefore have them continually be concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present – either meditating on their eternal union with…Him, or else obeying the present voice…

    Screwtape goes on to say:
    “In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”

    Thanks for the reminder to live now, here, presently.

  2. I absolutely agree that THIS MOMENT is why we are alive. (not that we shouldn’t plan at all) “Take no thought for tomorrow…” IT is the PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us. As a three year old, I knew that Jesus had done something in the past to provide for my future, and I accepted Him as my Savior. 14 years later He revealed His love not as past or future acts, but as a CURRENT FLOW into and through me. The life He offers is not a pool formed by yesterday’s rain, not a dark cloud approaching with promise of showers to come. His glory is a roaring wind, flashes of lightning, crashes of thunder, and today as I give Him this moment, like the time I first came to know Him as Lord, His grace is a torrential downpour.

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