Being present and letting God
Our church is finally doing in-person "special" morning prayer after a 2 year hiatus, and given the build-up to my move to NYC, recent job change (related to the move of course) and overall anxiety that has been building up as I'm entering the year I turn half 50, I decided this was God telling me to attend. I actually have never had an issue with waking up early (service begins at 5am) and if anything I think the earlier I wake up the more reduced my anxiety feels as I feel like I get to finish my morning routine earlier and therefore eliminating a small portion of the things I have to get done for the day. Of course, going to morning prayer or anything as it relates to my walk with God shouldn't be out of obligation or out of need, but for the growth of my relationship with Him. However, I did find it awfully coincidental (I don't believe in coincidences) that all these changes were occurring in my life and prayer was an aspect of my life I seemed to have dismissed for the past 24 years. It's been two days so far and I thought I'd share my two big takeaways from the sermons and my time in prayer.
The first is to be present - this was the focus of today's sermon, which revolved around the idea that our life actually lives between what was and what will be, in what we see as the "present." This is kind of a "no shit Sherlock" statement, but it's something that we often forget about in 2021. If anything, I feel as though I've lived the majority of my life, especially my adulthood, in the two other places of what was and what will be. In constant regret of the actions I've taken and the what ifs that could've occurred as a result of changing my past actions (which is impossible whether you like it or not) and in the "what will be" by contemplating how my present actions will shape the course of my future life and how successful I will be, who I will marry and how many parties I'll be able to host in my mansion. The reality here is that there's only what was and what will be that matters - it's that Jesus has died and rose again from the dead (what was) and that believing in Him as your Lord and Savior will get you to Heaven (what will be). This is of course in human terms, as in the eyes of God, this is what always was and always will be. Without getting to time-based philosophical, I think the word that we need to focus on (as said by the guest speaker today) is the word "done." It's not that what needs to occur is constantly being worked on nor is what has occurred being meditated on - everything that is supposed to be is already done. In some ways this used to push me into a long rabbit hole of emptiness -if everything is done, then what is the point of life? But recently it's beginning to occur to me that BECAUSE everything is already accomplished, it allows us to live the life that we are living and enable us to carry out the vision that he has for every one of us. Furthermore, it's not through our actions that such things are accomplished, but Him working through us. And at the end of the day, what has already happened (simply put, Christ and His life) is all that matters. This is something that we often, if not always, forget and get consumed by what was and what will be. It's something I struggle with a lot and have often discussed on my Youtube Channel as well as this blog - being unable to focus on the present because of the worries of the past and future. It's almost an obsession at this point. But knowing that all that matters has already happened and that there's nothing I can do to change it, but more importantly that what is to happen is already decided has given me strength and comfort. I sincerely pray that this wisdom empowers me to focus on the present and take it as the gift that it is.
The latter point (from yesterday) directly stems from the above - it's to let God (and in this case the Holy Spirit) literally take the wheel during prayer, and at the big picture, all things. The body is weak and in essence we are weak. In fact, we are nothing and all we can do and will do is die. That's a rather severe outlook on life, but I think it's truly important to embrace this idea that there's really nothing we can do by ourselves and all that we've accomplished is through the grace and power of God. I constantly look back at life and while I do want to pat myself on the back for a wide range of worldly accomplishments, my greatest feats (even the aspects of life most would consider "not for the Kingdom of God" in our humanly eyes) have not been through my efforts. Quite the opposite - I actually think I've tried harder in life ,in the textbook definition, in the past year than I have ever in my lifetime (combined) but my accomplishments and feeling of fulfillment has never been lower. It's even on paper - when looking objectively at what I've done in the past 6 months, it's not hard to see that because I've depended so much on myself recently, my accomplishments are not worth anything of true value and I can feel it without even having some "Christian" reflection. We need to be in positions where God can shine - and this is something that we really need to hammer into our heads that ultimately this is His story and His glory is simply showing through us. When we focus on ourselves and where we can take our lives, His name is no longer glorified and our focus is on what we can do individually as opposed to depending on our Creator. This is a never ending cycle of believing in one's own ability, acting on that ability, "achieving" based on that ability and further believing that we are the ones doing everything based on what we are and what we're able to do. But ultimately human beings are fragile and faulty and we will undoubtedly fail - and once that comes we start being overly introspective, blaming ourselves and often times God, falling into a bottomless pit of anxiety and self-blame. If we turn to God, however, we know that He is enabling us to do exactly what He wants us to do. If we give all that we are to Him fully acknowledging that without Him we are nothing, and the direction that we are headed is indeed the direction He wants us to go, then the responsibility is "displaced." Of course, we shouldn't be lazy and there's work that He wants us to do - but even if the result of that work is what we deem failure, there is more than comfort that comes from knowing that He was at the wheel and we're headed towards where we're supposed to go.
I don't think I'll have any trouble attending the rest of morning prayer - I do have concerns that in actively looking for a "sign" or "solutions" to all my anxieties and problems, I'll come off the week disappointed. I pray that I'll be able to come out of the week with tools to find answers rather than answers themselves so that my relationship with God deepens and I'm ready to face anything that comes my way. Let me know through email if you have any prayer requests - firstname.lastname@example.org