How much time do you spend caring for your relationships? You might reply that you value the importance of your relationships. You may however admit that you have little time for nurturing them. How about your relationship with God? Are you finding God in the moments of each day or struggling to recognize His presence? Perhaps you remain content to relegate your time with God to a number of scheduled encounters. Church attendance, weekly Bible study or a brief morning devotional encompass your God encounters.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends. Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always. We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Still, how many times do we ignore this in the course of one day? I realized this week, I stand guilty of this and worse, I choose to be “unavailable”.
Despite the fact that I advocate for and experience the benefits of mindfulness, I easily miss the best part. The best part of seeing God in each moment. As I wrote in my post on How Mindfulness Helps You See in the Dark, God reveals Himself to us in many ways, such as nature. I firmly believe God uses His creation to reveal Himself to us, but He is not restricted to that single use. The problem becomes the distractions we allow to hijack the moments of our day. Of course, we invite some distractions; social media, internet surfing, or entertainment for example. Other distractions imposed upon us, we cannot control.
If we live distracted, finding God in the moments of each day remains but an illusive dream. Unless we recognize the distractions and take control over those we can, we lose access to the best part of our days. Taking steps in pursuit of God’s presence throughout the day renews and deepens all of our relationships. Ultimately we grow more intimate with God and become emotionally and spiritually available.
Cultivating Moments with God
What if I told you finding God in the moments of each day required no more knowledge than you currently have? In fact it requires no additional time, beliefs or doctrines. And the good news is, it will help you with daily obligations, increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Are you in? I’ll admit it’s a radical approach when you feel “pressed for time” most days. But choosing the best part, actually allows everything else to fit into place.
Let’s pay a visit to Jesus and His friends in Bethany, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The familiar story told in Luke 10:38-42, has Martha distracted by all of the preparations for Jesus’ visit. Meanwhile, Mary is seated at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Martha confronts Jesus about the disparity, resulting in a reminder that she worries about many things. After which, He tells her only “one thing” is needful and Mary has chosen that “good thing”. I am not teaching on this passage here, but use it as an illustration. If most days have us feeling like Martha, how do we like Mary, manage to see God in the moments of our day?
Seeing More of God
I struggled with the dilemma of this verse for a long time. The implication doesn’t speak of shirking responsibilities to sit reading our Bibles all day. But neither does it speak of a specified “morning” devotion time that we check off and then handle the rest of the day. What it does speak of, is the priority of seeing and hearing God. Literally, finding God in the moments of each day. This hit home for me when I studied the gospel of John and read John 14:9, Jesus’ response to Philip when he asks to “see” the Father. “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me?” Like Philip, my prayer for some time was to “see” more of God. The realization of His presence already there, but undetected by me, pierced my heart.
You see, I did seek God at the “scheduled” times mentioned earlier, but the daily moment by moment, NO. I sought God in prayer & Bible reading to start and end my days and at the occasional tough spot during my day. But all of the moments in between I figured fell to me to handle after the blanket prayer of giving God my day during morning devotions. Often feeling overwhelmed by demands I barely thought about God much less saw Him in the moments of my day. When I put Luke 10:38-42 and John 14:9 together, it suddenly all made sense.
Big Rocks First
I think just about everybody knows the story allegedly told by a college professor to illustrate priorities in life. It has been used for everything from life priorities to achievements and career advancement. Attaching various meanings to the large rocks, pebbles, gravel, sand or water. I used this with children and they all wanted to put the small stuff in first, naturally resulting in the big rocks remaining left over. Without boring you with my whole lesson, the moral of the illustration for our purposes in this post is simple.
We all know the big rocks go in first, then the pebbles, gravel and sand followed by water if you use it. Yes, starting our day with God is like the big rocks, a priority. Then all the responsibilities and everything else get piled in, and voila, it all fits. But what if, considering Luke 10:38-42 and John 14:9, the priority of finding God in the moments of each day was fluid? What if Mary’s example wasn’t to simply put God first in my day, but to put Him first in every moment? Wouldn’t seeking to see God in every moment allow us to be more Spirit-filled? Could being that present with God help us be more productive, efficient, effective and ethical?
where’s your focus?
That all sounds nice, but what about the practical side of things? Martha always seems to get a bad rap for attending to the obvious needs of the day. Those needs press upon each one of us daily. As I mentioned above, the implication in Luke 10, is not “either” take care of responsibilities “or” sit at Jesus’ feet. I believe it’s “both”. It’s about “focus”; about “seeing” God in every moment. Jesus challenged Martha’s focus; her focus on preparations for Jesus precluded her seeing and hearing Jesus. On the other hand, Mary’s focus rested on Jesus allowing her to see and hear Him above all else.
Often we bring preconceived ideas of our own to Scripture and interpret what it says through them. As women, we could certainly see this as it is often portrayed, poor Martha left doing all the work, while Mary sat with Jesus. Then Jesus tells Martha, that’s the way it should happen. I often wondered if Martha walked away like I did, thinking that’s all well and fine, but who cooks, cleans and does the laundry then? That’s just it, with God you have it all.
Consider the following example of a “Mindfulness” or centering prayer:
Thank you God for this moment, help me to experience you in it.
This prayer said throughout the day can allow you to be spiritually available. First it centers you to the moment – where God is. Then it asks for help right now at this moment – the only moment you ever can be helped. The beauty of this mindful prayer is in its brevity and simplicity. It does not require much time and can be unspoken. Yet in an instant we make any ground, holy ground. We become “available” to God and the filling of the Holy Spirit. If you are fully present during whatever obligations demand your attention, and filled with the Spirit, could that transform each task? Would that allow you to do each obligation with excellence and efficiency to the glory of God?
This brief prayer includes praise and thanksgiving, appreciation for this most important gift; the present moment. This is the purpose of mindfulness; the present moment is all we really have, it’s where you exist and where God is present. Using this mindful prayer seeks receptivity to God’s presence resulting in nearness to God, now. Its simplicity doesn’t bog you down with thinking through the entire situation to ask for specific needs. This is the Mary moment, many things may be “needful” (strength, patience, grace, or wisdom), but only one thing is required. Finding God in the moments of each day is the one thing, the better part that we need.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13
finding god in the moments of each day
Centering ourselves with a simple mindful prayer removes our focus from self, negative emotions, overwhelm and performance. Instead the focus is squarely on God, right here, right now and what He has for us. This is a direct communication with God, which allows us to observe and participate in each moment without expectation or judgement. It’s meant to be a living prayer, perpetual throughout the day. As you feel your focus drifting, you simply repeat the mindful prayer to bring you back to the present moment, seeking God there.
God is the same in every moment, but we are not. When we face difficult instances, overwhelm or periods of negative emotions, we find help by bringing God into commonplace situations. When we do, we become most available to Him and free from non-productive thinking about what happened or what may happen. Finding God in the moments of each day, transforms every day tasks and obligations into Divine appointments. Instead of reserving particular times to “meet” God, we welcome Him into each moment with thanksgiving for whatever it holds. The best part? Intimacy with God! When we seek Him first, He allows everything else to fall into place. Teaching us to focus on God’s presence and sovereignty in every moment, and gratitude for all things from His hand.
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