The Power of “the Present”

I remember back when I was 19 and a freshman in college, I had a part-time job working in a supermarket distribution warehouse –in the produce & dairy area.  The job consisted of 3 nights per week working 10 to 12 hour shifts in a refrigerated building.  Sometimes the cold moist air felt like it literally cut to the bone, obviously making for a miserable work environment.

During breaks and lunch periods, the conversation usually consisted of a group of guys complaining about the cold, griping about management decisions and wishes from all of us that the night would quickly pass by -so we could all go home.  One night, a veteran employee made a comment that has vividly stuck with me ever since.  He said something like, “Guys, I have been working here for over ten years, and I have come to the conclusion that I come here five nights per week and I wish my life away.”  I found a tremendous amount of truth in that statement.  My coworker realized the simple but profound fact that he was indeed “wishing his life away” every shift that he worked in that warehouse.  I often take that nugget of truth and apply it to my own life.  So many times we are so focused on the “next thing” and getting to it that we wish “the present” away without any thought. Two giant problems jump out to me with the above mindset:

#1 A life spent “wishing the present away” in order to get to the “next thing,” is indeed wishing our entire lives away. –except for a few fleeting moments…  What a waste.  And with a mindset like that, we just wish the “next thing” away to get to the one after that.  How depressing, when you really stop and think about it.

#2 As uncomfortable (or comfortable) as our present situation might be, God is with us and He wants to work in “the present.”  He has a purpose for “the present.”  While planning and dreaming are very important, if our eyes are always on the future we will miss what God wants to do in “the present.”  So, it is possible for us to wish God’s will and purposes away as we wish “the present” away.  In addition, we could even totally miss the “next thing” because our attention is not on “the present.” -And, “the present” WILL lead to the “next thing.”

Because of the above truths, I have adopted the phrase: “The journey IS the destination.”  This simply means that I try to live my life in such a way where I refuse to wish it away.  I want to be present in “the moment.”  I want to be available for “the moment.”  I often ask God to remind me of the power of “a moment” given over to Him, focused on His ways and will.

As I write these thoughts, I am reminded of the lyrics to one of Chris Rice’s songs, “The Power of a Moment.”  I invite you to read them below. I have often made this song my prayer.  I pray that God would continue to teach us all “the power of the present.”

 

The Power of a Moment, by Chris Rice

What am I gonna be when I grow up?

How am I gonna make my mark in history?

And what are they gonna write about me when I’m gone?

These are the questions that shape the way I think about what matters

But I have no guarantee of my next heartbeat

And my world’s too big to make a name for myself

And what if no one wants to read about me when I’m gone?

Seems to me that right now’s the only moment that matters

 

You know the number of my days

So come paint Your pictures on the canvas in my head

And come write Your wisdom on my heart

And teach me the power of a moment

The power of a moment, the power of a moment

In Your kingdom where the least is greatest

The weak are given strength and fools confound the wise

 And forever brushes up against a moment’s time

Leaving impressions and drawing me into what really matters

You know the number of my days

So come paint Your pictures on the canvas in my head

And come write Your wisdom on my heart

And teach me the power of a moment

The power of a moment, the power of a moment

 

I get so distracted by my bigger schemes

Show me the importance of the simple things

Like a word, a seed, a thorn, a nail

And a cup of cold water…

 

You know the number of my days

So come paint Your pictures on the canvas in my head

And come write Your wisdom on my heart

And teach me the power of a moment

The power of a moment, the power of, the power of, the power of a moment…