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There, but Not Present

I was there, but not present. I was oblivious. Like those vintage photos of Albert Einstein with his crazy hair, where he looks like the absent-minded professor, I was the absentee. I was solving my Pi. And when 3.141592 … is going around in your head, it’s hard to think about anything else. It drives you mad.

Here’s the story. I’m obsessive—spontaneous, and sometimes ready to combust. It’s part of what makes me good at what I do. But it’s a hazard. Because when I am not present, it seems that God isn’t either. I subtly ask God for help, but it’s superficial—I know it, and he certainly does. So, I have to be honest with myself, my friends, my family and with God. I have to be willing to say, “I’m burned out, and I need to refocus on the Infinite God, so that I can be present again.”

I have friends that got burned out and ran. Running is for cowards. We do it because it's easy, but it's not the right choice. (Side Note: All you men who are thinking about running from your spouse, kids, work, or education: “Man up and get a spine. Work at being present. It is worth it. I promise.”)

It took me a long time to realize what I am about to say, so please read carefully. Searching for God doesn’t mean going out and finding him, it just means looking around you. Start by simply calling to Christ. And then do everything in your power to be aware of where, when and how he is active in your life. For many, backpacking through Europe opens their eyes. But maybe it isn’t the backpacking trip that did it. Maybe it is just that when we are in a foreign country, we feel so separated and isolated that we have no choice but to be present. What else are we going to do? Finding the Infinite God in everything means being present. It means closing that box of work, anxieties, fears, and whatevers, and opening a new one. And doing so before we enter the next room and begin that next conversation.

I don’t really strike balance; I use a sliding scale. Balance can’t exist completely—it is a false dichotomy. When I find myself leaning too far in one direction, I need to lean the other way. There is no equilibrium. Equilibrium in life is an allusion professed by religions and philosophies that were created with strata in place to keep new converts at a lower level and elders at the top. Equilibrium is an idealism made up by some nut jobs that wanted their followers to believe they were spiritually lower than them; it’s all a power play. Straight up: Equilibrium in life is a crap philosophy. Leaning on the Holy Spirit as a guide for balance—now that’s something I can buy into, because the Holy Spirit is a constant corrector. Who doesn’t need constant correction?

The Spirit is what made the prophets spiritually present in all situations. They weren’t that way naturally. They too had moments when God showed them that they needed guidance. Classic example: Moses went from self-indulgent prince in Egypt’s royal court, to peasant, to the leader of the largest slave exodus in history (Exodus 1–3). And then he continued to struggle to find balance while leading God’s people through the desert (Exodus 18). Like us, it got him in a lot of trouble (Exodus 17).

So, do you need to work at being present? Do you ever feel like your hair is getting a little crazy like Einstein? (My goatee is starting to look that way, but at least my eyebrows don’t look like Jack Nicholson’s anymore—I got that fixed.) How can we see God everywhere by being present all the time? Drop a comment and tell me know what you think.

Comments

Hi,
Great post. I find that I can only truly worship when I am present. I tend to get ahead of myself constantly. And by doing so, I begin to lean on my own efforts to advance, succeed, grow, experience, whatever it might be. And I've discovered, through many trials and errors, that the only way for me to experience contentment in life and have the ability to worship God, is when I am in the present. So for me to see God everywhere means I need to be present and not get ahead of myself. And if it weren't for the flat iron, I would have Einstein hair daily. :)

Carrie,

Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you and I are in the same boat on this one -- glad to hear I am not alone.

Does anyone else want to chime in and add to what Carrie has said? Carrie, perhaps you could drop a few lines with some pointers for always being present.

My tip for the day is: Take a few seconds whenever you arrive a new place and acknowledge to God and yourself that there are opportunities to grow and learn there. Sounds a bit froo-froo, but it really works -- at least for me.

--John

Pointers for always being present:
*Being grateful for where I am and what I have been given. This helps me to not focus on what I don't have and reminds me that what I do have is from God and its a gift. It also helps me to remember that God is in perfect control of my life. Therefore, I don't need to fret about tomorrow or get trapped in the guilt of the past. I'm thankful for today.

*Having a sense of self awareness. This helps me to remember how small I am. The second I forget that I am not God, I begin to feel a sense of entitlement and pride. Yet, when I remember that I am the creation, not the Creator, I am more focused on the present and not so much on what I deserve or can obtain by my own devices.

*Believe it or not I am still amazed that the sun rises and sets every day. Sure, some days it's cloudy and I don't actually see the sun, yet I know its there. Remembering creation was truly created and seeing it all around reminds me of the Creator and that allows me to enjoy it in that moment. I pray I never take a rising and setting sun for granted.

*Being a part of a community helps me to stay present. I need perspective other than my own when it comes to many thoughts and ideas in life. I find it helps me to stay present when I am intentional in my relationships with others and not so self absorbed.

Just some things that come to mind at the moment. And John, you are definitely not alone. :)

Thanks Carrie -- excellent pointers.

Anyone else want to add their own pointers for being present and/or comment on Carrie's?

--John

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I carry a picture in my spiritual wallet--I'm sitting on a couch snuggled between my Papa Father and my big brother Jesus Christ. As I walk through life, I am on that couch no matter what. Anything I need to know, anything I don't understand, I ask my Papa.

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About
The Infinite God is everywhere, are you looking? I am dedicated to finding God in all aspects of life – the Bible, the news, and the arts. Because I find that the most fulfilling journey of all is searching for heaven here on earth.