For those of us who dare to call ourselves Christian and really mean it, it is imperative that we understand that this particular path of spiritual endeavor is a risky business. You see, God is full of surprises and the radical Master that we profess to serve is highly unpredictable. If you treasure your comfort zones, it is much better to become a Buddhist. It’s a good deal safer to sit behind cloistered borders and chant a melodic sutra than it is to ask, “Lord, what would you have me do?”
The Master Jesus is not a friend of the lukewarm. Just ask the rich young ruler or the scores who turned on their heels and headed on down the spiritual pike when they heard Jesus’ more difficult teachings. I know that I, for one, have major trouble making important decisions, especially spiritual ones. And when I do make a significant decision among the choices available, I am quite prone to partake of that ruminating affliction we so casually call the “second guess.”
The Lord let it be known that he was not especially enamored of this tendency toward Monday morning quarterbacking, saying something about putting your hand to the plow, then looking back. He said those who played this game were not fit for the kingdom. Hard teachings, indeed.
Erwin Raphael McManus, Christian author and Senior Pastor of Mosaic, an innovative urban congregation in Los Angeles, expresses directly the beneficial consequences making positive decisions for God:
In your moment of truth what will you choose? Will you choose the wilderness or the adventure? Have you confused the blessing of God with wealth, comfort, and security? Have you considered that God’s greatest gift to you is that He calls you to be a pioneer, explorer, and even a creator? There are things God does for you and things that God waits for you to do. The journey begins when you choose. Stop wasting daylight. Choose a life of meaningful adventure. When you do, you will live in the epicenter of God’s activity.
What a powerful statement! I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind living at the epicenter of God’s activity. We spend so much time and energy seeking that elusive yet indispensable commodity we call “God’s will.” We search here and there, up and down, and round and round and, more often than not, end up more disoriented than when we began. We attend all the right workshops, listen to all the right audio seminars, read all the latest Christian best-sellers, all in an attempt to find God’s will and purpose for our lives. Yet if we lived at the epicenter of God’s activity, our problem would be solved.
The location of the epicenter of God’s activity is the subject of much debate and this is to be expected. Keep in mind that we are not dealing with a being strapped with human limitation here. We’re dealing with the fundamental, indescribable power that put this incredible, awe-inspiring Creation together. And he did it out of nothing. The point here is that God can do whatever he wants, which seems to be a point lost on some believers these days. Further, he can do what he wants where he wants. In practical terms, this means he can have his activity’s epicenter in more than one place at a time.
The result is that well-meaning but highly myopic people tend to locate the center of where God is moving in places familiar and closely related to their own pet projects. The reality is, however, God may be off doing something else totally unexpected and scratching his head with wonder as he thinks, “Can’t you see that I am doing something new?” [Psalm 43:19]
McManus makes the cogent point that the reality of God’s will can only be found in the present moment; “divine moments” he calls them. I could not agree more with what he says and experience, both my own and those of countless clients over the years, bears this out time and time again. The past is already a done deal and the future, at the very best, is but a fleeing fantasy. Reality is happening right now, under our noses, and it is happening nowhere else. Once you get that, and I mean really get it, you are well on your way to a most rewarding life, regardless of external circumstance.
As a brief sidebar, I also want to mention that a big part of finding our place in God’s scheme of things involves becoming the optimal version of ourselves and the context in which we accomplish that is also in the divine moment. McManus also speaks to this issue:
Earth’s unlimited resource is the gifts, talent, passions, imagination, and ingenuity of its citizens. You would think that we know this by now, but we often seem to miss the gift right in front of us. The world needs you to find the hero within you. The real battle is not between good and evil but between less and more. Most of us don’t choose the worst life; we just don’t choose the best. We can’t afford for you to sleep through your dreams…..The world needs you at your best. This planet is made better or worse by the people we choose to become. If you live a diminished life, its not only you who loses, but the world loses, and humanity loses. There is a story to be written by your life, and thought it may never inspire a graphic novel, it is a heroic tale nonetheless. Though you may not recognize it, there is a greatness within you.
I love these words by McManus. They reverberate through the inner fiber of my being, ringing loudly with both truth and relevance. I know that many times I forget that there is a God-planted greatness within me and within others. Fortunately, God has found ways to keep me focused enough to have at least have one eye on the potential he placed within me.
Developing the ability to discern where and how God is moving requires more than merely taking time out for rest and relaxation. It takes a more radical and comprehensive reorientation of our approach to life in general and focus in particular. If you are to become more sensitive to what God is doing and where he is doing it, you need to become intimately acquainted with a practice that we in this fast-paced, multi-tasking world are not good at. In order to discover the movements of God in the context of the “divine moment,” you have to become more mindful.
Mindfulness is not stressed so much in our culture and it is stressed even less in our churches. This is unfortunate because no matter how much the post-modern world sings the virtues of multi-tasking this and multi-tasking that, the ability to fully focus on one thing and one time, to the exclusion of any distraction, is a highly useful skill. Our corporate world, in spite of its alleged genius, has yet to discover that mindful people are far more productive than multi-taskers. Their efficiency alone makes them more of an asset.
Even more relevant from a spiritual perspective, if we are going to find God’s will we are going to have to seek the epicenter of his activity. As we have seen, that sublime activity is going to be found in its purest, most pristine and discernable form in the present moment – the divine moment. It will be found here and nowhere else. As we have also seen, in order to discover this epicenter and God’s will, we may, indeed, have to reorient our perspective on several key issues. With certainty, we have to become more mindful.
© L. D. Turner 2009/All Rights Reserved