Thank GOD! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
you who seek GOD. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for GOD, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
his miracles, and the verdicts he's rendered—
O seed of Abraham, his servant,
O child of Jacob, his chosen.
I have a confession to make. I totally misread the Book of Common Prayer earlier this week and got myself tangled up and out of order in Luke. So, instead of rehashing a passage from earlier this week, I thought I would take a bit of the psalm from today’s readings.
Reading the psalms for me can be tedious. So many feel too emo and whiny for me. But, then you get ones like Psalm 105 which tells the narrative of the people of God. This psalm is like an epic poem in its retelling of the Exodus. It is, on its own merits, a beautiful piece of poetry.
What really hit me this morning were these first six verses though and verse four in particular. It reads, “Keep your eyes open for GOD, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence.”
Over the last year I have begun learning to practice being in the moment. The realization that all we ever truly experience is the “now” was a bit of a perspective shattering thing for me. I have always been a bit like Luke Skywalker in the swamps of Dagobah with my mind elsewhere. I constantly think of the future and what is next. I really struggle to be present in the moment. Even as I sit here writing this morning my mind wanders to later today, next week, next month, and I have to bring myself back to this moment. It’s not a bad thing to be oriented this way, but there is a danger in it.
The danger of always dreaming and thinking about the future is that I miss what’s right here. I miss the joy and beauty of the moment, the now.
I think back over my life and wish I had savored certain seasons more deeply. Yet, I was always moving and thinking about the next thing.
Just before the pandemic struck I was spinning up and getting excited about the future. There was momentum in all of our missional communities. Things were happening and it was exciting! All of my dreams were beginning to come true. But, then everything stopped. The world shut down. I was crushed.
Somehow, I had to learn to find joy.
In an ancient letter to a group of Christians in the city of Philippi, Paul of Tarsus wrote, “I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.”
I am trying to learn this. It’s brutally difficult. God graciously continues to provide opportunities. But, I don’t like it. I don’t like learning contentment or living in the eternal “now.” Why? Because when you do you begin to feel things. I am finding that I am more aware of my emotions and my body. It’s strange to say and that sounds really “woo-woo” to me. But, it’s not. It’s this growing awareness of what it means to bring all of myself to this immediate moment.
Just now, after becoming aware of and confessing my wandering mind I have written more in just a few minutes than I had the twenty minutes before. It’s a very strange experience.
Practically, I am trying to live out in the body what the psalmist writes here in verse four. I am intentionally trying to be alert for God’s presence. To do this demands that I am embrace the “now” as eternity. In so doing, I am learning to be content and satisfied with what is happening in the moment. It is both beautiful and ugly. It brings me joy and sorrow. But, the contentedness that I am experiencing is something I have never truly known.
Another word for it might be, “rest.”
How about you? Are you experiencing contentment? Are you embracing the eternal “now”?