Thursday, May 5, 2011

God of the Present Moment

Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split. ~ Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34

In last Thursday’s post I imagined the financial advisor reading the words of Jesus, pushing his chair back from his desk, thinking, “Surely, he can’t be serious.” Yet there, in the Sermon on the Mount, we find Jesus recommending living one day at a time in the manner of birds and flowers.
The Father--in his divine wisdom--decreed that we should live one day at a time. His decree did not come with words, but by his actions: he created the world in such a way that it is impossible to do anything other than live one day at a time. Each person drawing breath on the planet is allotted only the present moment. Riches cannot buy anything else, nor can intelligence or imagination. We are time-bound creatures because that’s the way he wanted it to be.
The Spirit invites us to reflect on his work called “time.” What lessons can we learn from his actions? I’d like to suggest at least five life-giving benefits of grasping God’s wisdom for the march of days:
He invented life’s rhythm. “And there was evening, and there was morning.” The stanzas of the creation poem contain a rhythm which translates into any language, and a universal experience accessible to any person. Genesis is more than a report from the past. It is the pattern for the present. We were made for the straight-time of everydayness. For example, our family life flows more smoothly when school is in session, when each day is a metronome of time and task. If we move away from the rhythm of a daily schedule we are a people playing our own music, out of sync with one another.
He is aware that the days add up. There were 25 years between God’s promise to Abraham and fulfillment. That’s just over 9,000 days. 9,000 evenings Abraham rested his head on a pillow and asked, “When, Oh Lord?” 9,000 mornings he woke with anticipation, looking for the fulfillment of divine promise. Between promise and fulfillemnt lies the present: ongoing and daily. The Father knew Abraham would have to experience each day one at a time--9,000 of them--and still God chose to speak 25 years before the fact. We, too, can experience the forces which shaped Abraham into the father of faith. Every mother waiting to conceive a child understands Abraham; each single person waiting for a spouse feels the emotions Abraham must have felt; even the oppressed people of the earth awaiting justice drink from the well of Time, supplied by springs of hope in God’s goodness. In our waiting we learn to trust that he is good, even if we are empty-handed in the moment.
Each day is the Father’s antidote to worry.  Prudent and responsible people plan their future, but far more of us try to secure our future through the power of our own efforts. But no amount of planning can anticipate the days ahead. It’s true: there are plenty of Bible verses about the wisdom of planning, but rare is the person who can draw up plans and then leave them on the altar of the God who holds the future. The scripture is filled with treasures extolling each moment lived in relationship with the Creator: “his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” How many of these passages find a place in our thoughts each day? Those who embrace the dew-fresh experience of God’s daily mercy are free from taskmaster of worry. Those who depend on their own plans more than they depend on the Creator of Time need to discover the treasure of time wasted with God.
Each day is God’s balm for the past. The mass of days and months gone by are a heavy burden to carry. We were not to meant to live in the past. Two small words in our thoughts can combine to form brain cancer: “if only.” If only I had chosen differently. If only they had not cheated me. If only I was not the one left behind. God does not expect us to deny or forget our past, but he knows that the weight of by-gone days is too heavy for anyone to bear. The balm for “if only” is a simple question we are free to ask every day: “what now?” To ask the Father “what now” acknowledges that we are not alone, that the promise of his presence is real to each of us each day. But we must be sure ask! The loss of loved ones, the shame of poor choices, the scars of abuse can all become part of our testimony today if we will walk with the One who is the Eternal Now. To ask what now is to recognize that we are in relationship with the One who has power and grace to redeem the past and set us on the path of life each day.
And yet, the days are gods: Annie Dillard was on to something. Our senses can be overwhelmed by the clamour of the present, demanding our full attention and even our worship. Each day I awake to a rush of light and sound that competes for my attention. The alarm calls my name. My calendar demands attention, the television tells me what is important today. The still small voice of God is always present, but it is not the only voice. The gods of Everydayness demand tribute. How should we live?
The present is only valuable when it sends us to the Father. It is an enemy if we find ourselves sucked into the urgency of now apart from the grace of the Eternal Now. Inside the husk of time is the God who exists outside of time. Each day is only valuable to us as we learn to grab the grain, break the husk, and discover the Ancient of Days inside. 

No comments:

Post a Comment