The Greatest Gift: The Present

Can I let you in on a little secret? I am really struggling with something.

In 14 days I will hop on a plane and fly to Oregon to serve on work crew for Young Life at Washington Family Ranch Creekside, and I am SO excited.

I am thrilled for the plane ride itself (can you tell that I haven’t been on a plane before), for the opportunity to experience a radically different place on the complete opposite side of the country, to serve and learn and love and laugh, to meet the sweetest new friends, and to witness all of the ways that the Lord will work in, through, and around me.

Each day I want to go by quickly, so that the 26th will approach faster.

This is just what we do. When we are children, we can’t wait to be teenagers. When we are in middle school, we are dying to be in high school. When we are in high school, we are just looking forward to college. Then that great post-grad job. Then maybe dating. Then marriage. And then we can’t wait for kids. And a new job. And a promotion. And then we are just holding on for retirement. It’s the American Dream.

This excitement of life is not necessarily bad, but I don’t want to live in tomorrow.

I don’t want to look back and realize that I missed out on what the Lord has for me today because I was too focused on the future. I don’t want to throw away my days.

I’m learning that right now is the best place to live, and that God must be a pretty big fan of today, because we keep waking up to it. 

Jesus had something to say about this, and I’m realizing more and more that I should not take His words lightly:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:25-34

I can hear it now. Can’t you?

His tender whisper over our lives and into our hearts telling us to slow down and seek His face here and now.

I don’t want to miss it. There is so much beauty here. Ann Voskamp says that “the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”  In the boring. In the mundane. In the suffering. He has promised to never leave us, and He is here.

So I will give thanks for the days when I am hurting, and my next best thing seems so far off, because He is nearer than He has ever been, and that is enough.

There is a sacred reason for which you and I are still breathing today, and I am choosing not to carelessly overlook that.

Let the anthem of our lives be these five words: Wherever you are, be all there. 

Because you have been carefully placed where you are by the King of Kings to do a mighty work. Whether it be changing that diaper. Or writing that paper. Or loving those patients. Or recovering from that surgery. Or picking flowers (my personal favorite), heart beaming because you understand that He spoke those tiny masterpieces into existence, but He cares nothing for them and everything for you and just think of how intricately and wonderfully you are made.

We have all lived pain, and we all have wounds, and let us choose not to deepen those wounds by neglecting to give thanks for the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.

And what if life isn’t about our happiness at all, but our holiness? And from that holiness and loving God and being loved by Him comes unfathomable joy (to which the happiness of this world cannot compare)?

Wherever you are, be all there. Right here, right now, this is holy ground. Seek His face today. You will find joy unspeakable here.

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