The Ministry of Presence
I just returned from a hike with my daughter and am hoping that the lessons I learned through this trip can be applied to the rest of my life, and especially my pastoral ministry which I return to this morning.
Though there were several important lessons, the most important for me has to do with presence. We were hiking in area filled with lots of possible adventures, ranging from rock-climbing, to mountaineering, to challenging hikes or easy ones. Terrain options ranged from river valleys to spectacular ridges to glaciated summits. And here’s the reality: The necessity of choosing was sucking the joy out of the trip for me. When I thought about climbing, I was regretting hiking. When I thought about the river valley, I mourned the thought of missing the ridge. I can be like that: always wanting to be elsewhere. Such a posture of the heart really sucks the joy out of living. The ‘preacher’ wrote that ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ Let me tell you, that applies to all of us, and especially we who are prone to think that there is more adventure to be had elsewhere than where we’re planted. To the extent that I stop looking around and begin to focus on THIS day, THIS person, THIS passage of the Bible, THIS sunrise, THIS writing project, THIS meal, I find myself much closer to carrying out the will of God, and enjoying life more fully.
This day can be a good day, a day of life, if I will but allow Christ to express His life through me RIGHT HERE in the present. Contentment and the ministry of presence are, I'm convinced, learned arts. I still have much to learn, but am grateful for the reminder found in the mountains that, when I'm on the ridge, rejoice in the ridge rather than wishing I were on a different summit. This is the time, the place, the context of God's will for me... and for you too.
Living in the present...