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Be Present

Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

I was cleaning out my email inbox last week (there’s nothing quite like an inbox with 0 unread messages, amiright?) and I stumbled upon one from March 16, 2020, time stamped at 12:15pm.

Only a few hours after that email was sent, the world changed. The COVID-19 epidemic had spread rapidly and a shelter-in-place order was issued in San Francisco along with many other cities, counties, and countries.

Now, almost 6 months later, as I stumbled upon that email, it gave me pause.

First, I laughed at the fact that the email contained a plan for the next three weeks. How quickly we were forced to change our plans. It is good and prudent to plan, yes. Of that there is no doubt. But I am reminded that nothing is guaranteed and how we should be flexible and adaptable with our plans, not holding on to them too tightly.

Secondly, I was saddened by the list of names in the address field. Many of the names I see are still my co-workers, but a number have moved on to different stages of their lives and I won’t get to send them these emails again.

Lastly, I was struck by how much I missed these meetings. Every Monday morning at 11am we would have a meeting and then I’d send a summary email. I didn’t know that would be the last email of that kind that I would send. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4-5
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing...

When I think back to all those meetings, I miss being able to sit in a room together with my friends and coworkers. I miss the laughs and friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) jests. I miss the hunger headaches from planning so many details right before lunch. I miss the faces and voices of those who I will no longer get to work with.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I miss everything. There are things about these meetings that I definitely don’t miss. While always necessary, helpful and productive, these meetings could also at times be frustrating and a drag. Sometimes I’d want it to hurry up so I could get on with the other pressing items in my day…like lunch, or anything else really.

This is me with a lot of things.

More often than not, I’d like whatever I’m engaged in to hurry on up so I can get on to the next thing. Always one thing after another, never really appreciating where I am.

“Wherever you are, be all there! 
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
Jim Elliot

If only I could take just a moment—no matter what situation or season I find myself in—to listen for what the Lord is saying to me.

When all my plans are swept away by the crises of life and the walls of anxiety block me in: Don’t panic, child. I know what’s coming. I’ve got this. I’ve always had this. 

When I lament the things that were and wonder about what things will be like in days yet to come: Don’t worry, child. Things may not be the same, but I am. I will never change.

When things are good and my heart is full: See, child. I am all around. I am in everything. Listen for me. Feel me near.

When things don’t seem to be getting any better and I can’t go on amidst all the madness: Be still, child. I am here. 

I am here in the chaos. 

I am here in the waiting. 

I am here in the silence.

I am here in all things. 

Don’t rush past Me. 

You’ll only have this moment once. 

I’m trying to show you something.

James 4:14
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? 
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

There will always be a last. The last time you walk into your place of work. The last time you feel pain from an injury. The last payment of your student loan. The last time your child naps in your arms. The last time you kiss your loved one.

Breathe. Take it all in. You’ll never have this moment again, for better or for worse.

And as you breathe, think of the One who is there right beside you, in all things, for better or for worse, always.

Malachi 3:6
For I, the Lord, do not change…

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.