Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

(Railroad tracks - Monroe County)

I just returned from my oral surgeon's office where I had a molar extracted. A few weeks ago a gold crown that adorned this molar came off. The tooth under the crown had developed a hairline crack which, over time, dislodged the crown. Because of the hairline crack the tooth could not be salvaged; hence, the extraction. So, exactly two hours ago I was sitting in the dentist's chair. Now, I'm sitting at home. The novocaine is slowly wearing off. I've got some pain meds in case I need them. And it is well with my soul.

Ps. 118:24 reads - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Increasingly, I find this scripture to be important. It's a motif found throughout the Bible. Like...
  • Today is the day of salvation... 
  • Now is the time to worship...
  • This is the day the Lord has made...
Arguably, this moment... right now... is the moment of all moments. It is not to be avoided (as if we could) or gotten-past because we are on to better things. I like how Greg Boyd puts this:

"God is the God of the living, not the God of the already-past or the not-yet-present. He's the great "I AM," not the great "I was" or the great "I will be." He's been present for every moment in the past, for which we can be thankful, and he'll be present at every moment in the future, which gives us great hope. But he's only alive and active now, in the present - which is the only thing that's real." (Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now, 15)

Now, for example, God loves you. This core Jesus-truth is meant to be not a mere theoretical truth but an experiential reality. This is cool because it is experience, not theory, that breeds conviction. So right now, "remind yourself that you are submerged in God's love." (Ib., 19) Dwell with God who makes his dwelling place in you 24/7. God is in the house of "you" right now. Why not say "Hi?"

Those who practice attending to God in every now-moment are the ones who will do great things for God in the future. Non-attendance now means failure tomorrow. And, God could grant one of those watershed-life-changing now-moments... now. Read history to verify the truth of this last statement. Therefore attend. Raise your hand and say "Present, Lord."

Boyd says that "now is where God lives." (Ib., 21) Missionary Frank Laubach encourages us to "Make a new beginning." Boyd writes: "Wake up to God's presence in this moment now." 17th-century monk Jean-Pierre de Caussade called this "the sacrament of the present moment." We attend to God now so we can know God now, and so we can be different in the next moment.

As I was sitting in the dentist's chair and the oral surgeon was about to drill he told me, "You'll now feel some vibration." I decided not just to hang on and long for this particular now-experience to be over. I don't believe that God said, in that moment, "Excuse me, I'll be back when the tooth is out." Instead, my ever-present God suggested that it would be good to take this time to pray for some other people that He had on his mind, and that now would be a good time since I had nothing else to do. So, I prayed for some specific friends that I care for very much.

If you are like me, you need God now and not in some distant future. And while it is very good to recount our past experiences with God, it is better to experience God now. God is not like some person we used to live with but is no longer with us. Nor is God living in some far-off land but making plans to visit us in a few years. God calls himself "Emmanuel." God with us. God with you. In the now.