This morning, I am sitting on the street corner of Second and Main watching the world fly by. People walking very slowly, oblivious to the others around them who are trying to get in their steps. The little dog barking at the dog three times bigger than him. The dad on his phone trailing behind the son on his bike far ahead ready to go discover something new today. The man who rode his bike here is now sitting across from me and his little bike light that helps keep him safe is flashing in my peripheral vision…that won’t be fun the rest of this time but I’ll do my best to block it out for the sake of this present I long to give you as you start this new year. He is kind, he offers a polite, “Good morning, is this table open?” He has kindness in his eyes.
It is fun to watch the world go by, it’s fun to sit and take it all in. The ordinary day to day, we can find the Father if we search and look and have eyes to see and ears to hear. In the mundane Mondays, the routines, the schedule; they can really be brand new days of growth, of learning, of joy and holiness. It doesn’t have to come on the first of January as you open that fresh calendar, it can come on a Wednesday in mid-June. It’s a perspective, it’s choice, its living fully present.
I love this day, the new year. I am sucker for starting fresh. I love thinking of all that is to come and I love letting go of all that’s behind me and pressing forward. I want to meet you on this new day, of the new month, of the new year. Maybe you are taking a sigh of relief that 2020 is over, maybe you are still sad and broken about many hard things that happened last year. You woke, hoping to not feel the pain but alas, it’s right there in a tight ball in the middle of your chest. Or maybe you are like me and are hopeful for all that is to come, or maybe you don’t think much about it. You are such a realist that it’s just another day. Well, wherever you are on the spectrum of feelings and thoughts about the New Year I would love to share something the Father has so graciously taught me all last year that He wants me to press in and make it a focus this year.
One of my words for the year is present. Yes, I have more than one, I love words. I have like three words and a theme, I can't help myself. I am such an overachiever, or a bad decision maker, either way I just love it! But God has been speaking to me so much about present. About being present, thinking present, living present, breathing present, and as you start this fresh year I want to share what I have learned last year that I am going to practice all this year.
Being present is such a cliché saying, but what deep meaning it has. To be present is a gift waiting to be opened with expectation every day. Oftentimes we long to escape the present because we don’t like how it feels or it wasn’t what we thought it would look like. Or it is just really hard...beyond hard. We scream, “Lord get me out of here!” And you know what that’s fair. I have said that many of times. But I will say…if I may…in my most trying times are the moments I have felt His presence, and comfort and love in ways I have never experienced Him before. Because up until that point I didn’t need Him like this. But now I do. And isn’t that the gift of the present? His Presence.
Sometimes we don’t like the present because it's the same thing, every day, over and over again. "What's my purpose? Am I seen? Do I bring value? Is what I am doing actually of any worth at all? Does it even matter?" I understand dear friend and have much compassion. I have often felt that as a teacher in a classroom. Feeling, "Is what I am doing really going to change any of my student's lives?" As a mother, constantly pouring myself out every single day when no one else sees me, does this even have any eternal weight? Everyone else's posts and lives look way more vibrant, fun, and important than mine. Yes, all of this is real and valid. But on this new day, of this new year this is where I hope it can shift. Acknowledge of all those feelings, but let us not stay there. Shake off the old and bring in the new, not just today, but every day.
Being present starts in the mind, it starts with our faith. Being present is a choice of a life fully surrendered. A, "Not my will but Yours be done." A life bowed down open to the day and what it might bring. Opening your eyes in the morning like you open a gift expectant that you will find His presence all throughout the 24 hours you have been so graciously given.
Psalm 143: 8
So all these places you want to go, these dreams you have, these hopes and expectations for the future. Well before you can get there, you have to be here.
To be present is to be PRE-SENT.
Before you can go or be where you hope to be you must show up to the here and the now. The Lord spoke to Samuel in the night, and he answered, "Here I am." HERE. We must be here. In Isaiah 6:8 the Lord asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And Isaiah answers, "Here I am..."
I know you have dreams. I know you have hopes. And we both know the Lord has plans for your future full of hope, joy, and love. (It will most likely come in ways you don't expect) I have huge dreams, and hopes, and desires. But to get there, you must be HERE. I must be here. In the middle of night when my son wakes afraid and wants me to comfort him. In the middle of homeschool where I patiently guide my children in handwriting or math. In the kitchen making dinner again for the hundredth time.
So show up today. Be fully present, in His presence today.
The man on the bike, his name is Peter, he is a head and neck surgeon. I told him I am a writer. I always feel so confident and joyful when I say that out loud. His profession feels much more prominent than mine, but the goal is the same, to help people, to bring life to dead places. We chat about my husband’s job, with him being a pastor that usually sparks more thoughts or ends the conversation rather quickly. He wishes me a happy new year and says, “Good luck with your writing, I hope to hear about you some day.” I tear up, “Yes, me too Peter.” A word spoken into my deep longing, my biggest dream. And it is spoken on a normal day on Second and Main. It’s the being present, there is the gift right there.