Absent from the Present


He is I AM.

He is here, in this perfect moment of time, in this present vital connection between the natural and the spiritual.  Right now, in this place, in this kinetic moment, He is fully attentive and engaged.  He is talking to me, showing me affection and counsel and bending to partner with me.  He is present.

But I am absent.

I have walked away, seduced into a holding pattern, where the past and the future have been erected as idols for my attention.  I am playing the harlot—my fascination and adoration have been sold.  The world around me believes that anything of value arrives in glittering prose or popular approval.  When nothing in this moment demands my attention with its flashing lights, I wonder off into a virtual world populated by the captivating tales of past moments—I travel into history, and neglect my present.

In this moment, in every present moment, a gift arrives.  A person comes, or a thought, or an idea, or a challenge, or a pause of rest.  They are simple and profound ingredients which a spiritual man of the present might combine to create a life of kingdom eternity.  These treasures come in stealth, disguised as silence, often visible only to a heart that is still and waiting.

In the present, there is love, overflowing, because it is not tempered or shortened by past experiences.  There is grace, complete, because the present is not poisoned by the past.  There is joy, the Lord’s strength for us, because the present is not limited by our projections or concerns of the future.  There is worship, because the present is filled up with a profound awareness of His goodness.  In the present is where free men live.

In the present is a very powerful assignment, a place carved out specifically for God’s sons.  There is work, purpose, intention, rest, and energy.  The present is good soil unpolluted by the stagnant complacency produced in the civil war of past and future.

But I am not here, in the present.

At red lights….

in line at Target…

during a lull in the conversation…

while on the toilet…

during commercial breaks…

in waiting rooms…

while I’m waking up in the morning…

when I’m winding down at night…

I am not here.  I wonder away, taking the foolish routes of an undisciplined mind.  I play on my phone, recycling the chatter of social networks to fill my time.  I browse Instagram and Twitter, and check Facebook again, in case something new has happened in the two minutes since I’ve been away.  I check celebrity websites and read useless news articles, clearly written more for entertainment value than actual reporting.

In my pursuit of Jesus, He is claiming an increasing portion of my entirety.  He is gentle and persistent, fueled by my genuine appetite.  This week, as I drifted away into a tunneled distraction, I felt Him tugging me, as though He were crying out for me to stay with Him, here in the present.  I didn’t know what to do with that blank moment–but His pull on me was significant enough that I paused, and for the first time, really noticed how often I step away.  How often I trade here for there.

He is I AM.  Right here, in the present, in this breath, in this room I’m in.  There is a place and a power in media, in technology, in the tools that make our society so global.  But I have abused them, and given them a place in my life that has reduced my spirit, attention and authority to a shadow of their intention.  It has become such an extension of my daily life that I find myself stepping there purely by habit.

Jesus is calling me–us–to the Present.  Here, where He is, I AM, right now.  Here.  In this place, in this freedom moment, in this pause, may we become so hungry and open for His voice that we are willing to stay here, in the present, more and more often.  May we give the Present its place, may we glean the gifts in it, hear Him in it.  May all other options and competitions for our attention pale in comparison to the vital freedom we find here, right now.  In Him.  In us, in Him. 

He is here.  So I will be, too.

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