The Power of Being Present

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I’m not some anti technology nut who believes everyone should cancel Netflix, delete Facebook and throw away their phones. Now that I’ve said that, lately those seem like better and better ideas.

Recently at a camp fire with my students, I took a picture as things were starting off, and most everyone was on their cell phones. One parent commented that the zombie apocalypse was here! It does at times seem as if technology is taking over our lives.

I remember when I was a kid in school, the teacher would be taking roll and each student, as their name was called, would respond with the standard, “here.” Yet is seemed there was always that one person who couldn’t help themselves. They just had to call out, “present” with a smug smile.

Today it occurs to me that there is a very real difference between being “here” and being “present”. Anyone can be “here”, it simply requires the physical act of being in the room. However, being “present” is not only physical, but mental as well. To be fully present is to have your mind completely focused on where you are at the moment.

Plenty of teens come to student ministries all over the nation and while they are there physically, they are not fully present mentally. People of all ages seem to have developed this compulsion to look at our phones. It becomes addictive and prevents us from giving our undivided attention to the people we are actually with.

Someone once said, “Wherever you find yourself, be there.” It’s so easy to be in a hundred different places at once that we fail to give our full attention to our friends, teachers, pastors, family, employers and even God.

The other aspect of technology that drives me crazy is that we are constantly connected through social media to hundreds of people who at any moment can disrupt our lives with a message, like or comment. People today assume you’re on your phone, or have it close by and often expect an immediate response. This particularly bothers me because I don’t believe God intended us to be in constant connection with so many people. I believe the only constant connection He intended, is for us to be in constant connection to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Never stop praying indicates that we should always be connected to God. I can think of many times at the end of the day when I feel my connection to God is disrupted and it’s like I have to try and reconnect.

This scripture also tells us to be joyful and thankful in all circumstances.In a world of constant distraction and disruption it’s so easy to lose our joy and it can be difficult to find a thankful attitude.

Lately it seems to me that turning off the tv, disconnecting from our phones and simplifying how we spend our time is the healthiest thing we can do. Our greatest, most fulfilled moments won’t stem from a funny video someone shared on Facebook. It will come from the quiet of God’s presence and the fullness of His word come alive.

This is the power of being present. Be fully present by giving God your full attention. He is wanting to speak to you and it is by focusing all of our attention toward God that we position ourselves to hear His voice.

Take a moment today to disconnect from the world and connect to God.

Return To The Secret Place

In the past six months I have greatly increased by devotional life (time spent in prayer and reading scripture). I am not only spending more time in prayer and study, but I am doing it more consistently. Last week I started a book that is reminding me of some truths I haven’t thought about in a little while.

The book is “Secrets of the Secret Place” by Bob Sorge. Often growing up and throughout my life I have referred to my prayer time as going into the secret place, but I hadn’t thought about that frame of reference in quite a while.

Matthew 6:6 (NKJV) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

It really is quite amazing to think about. Not only has God provided me with salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, but He actively wants to have a relationship with me! I can have a private and personal relationship with the God who created all that is known and not yet known with His very breath.

Like many of you, I don’t see myself as anything special. Certainly I would not think myself worthy of time with Kings or Presidents, yet my God who is the King of all Kings wants to meet me in the secret place.

In fact He is already there waiting! That’s what the scripture says. My Father is in the secret place! All I have to do is go to my room, shut the door and pray.

This is something all of us should place great value on. Our time with our Heavenly Father should be the highlight of our day! We should look forward to spending time with Jesus, but all too often our prayer life becomes an after thought. Sure we will open up the Bible if we have a little time left after doing all the other things that desperately demand our attention. We have it backwards.

I believe there is great importance in starting our day in the secret place. Starting the day by asking God His plan for our day. Spending time pouring our love on Jesus. Reading His words and asking Him to speak to us. Friend, none of the countless other things demanding your time are as important as your Father who is waiting in the secret place.

I don’t say any of these things to guilt you, or make you regret time you’ve missed. I don’t believe that God is an angry God waiting to get you alone so He can yell at you for not spending more time with Him. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of regret. Just go home, shut the door and enter into a special moment with your Father.

One last thing that sticks out to me in that scripture is the phrase “shut the door.” This could mean different things to different people in different situations. I feel the root meaning is to get away from distractions. Today that might mean turning off your phone. If you’re like me and use your phone as a part of your devotional life that can be difficult. Find the do not disturb mode. Find the silent button and use it!

Nothing that can appear on your screen is more important that the work God is doing in your life. We will talk a little bit more about our phones tomorrow. For today take courage in knowing God is waiting for you in the secret place.

Don’t keep Him waiting.