Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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...

5 Comments:

At 28/7/05 00:50, Blogger Ryan said...

richard, your blog is a daily hit for me. thanks for your words.

"wherever you go, be all there. live to the hilt any situation which you believe to be the will of God." - elliott

 
At 28/7/05 01:52, Blogger MitzieBitchie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 29/7/05 18:55, Blogger Donald Miller said...

i thought about this recently regarding the whole "Grass is Greener" mentality as it relates to my home church here in portland. I love my church and dont want to leave, but a friend and i were saying how nice it might be just to pick up and start over with all new people. in other words, we were wondering if there was something better. but as soon as we voiced it, i think both of us felt this grief that fifty years from now we wont have stayed on one place, done life with one group of people, loved, hurt, lost, ushered in birth, helped, needed and all the stuff long beauty requires. such a tempting reality, but ultimately i am with you, in that we have to make choices, and then we never look back, just stay the course so we can know the beauty fo the whole of one choice rather than the first few paces of many. i suppose this can relate to jobs (although i am all for quitting if it isnt the calling!) wives, husbands, gardenign or whatever. thanks for the reminder and affirmation.

 
At 30/7/05 08:41, Anonymous dan tegman said...

I often find myself staying up late at night because I’m “fearful”, should I go to sleep, I’ll miss something. As if succumbing to sleep is an admission that another day has died. Give me a nap in the middle of the day, but don’t make me go to bed and admit another day is behind me! I too often wish I was somewhere else, but I agree with the premise that now is where God has me, and now I am called to reflect, however faintly, the radiance of Christ. Perhaps I can even accomplish this in my sleep…since God’s presence is within me... everywhere…and at all times.

 
At 31/7/05 12:30, Anonymous lee said...

Building from what dan said, I think we can (and I certainly do!) get caught in a sense of fighting the desire to be elsewhere in time. I find myself torn between being now and longing to be "else-when", whether it's looking back at good times in years past or at work anxiously watching the clock tick towards five on a sunny day.

If we could all buy one of these, would we ever learn to be present in the here and now?

 

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