3.8.15–>”Attending to the Present Moment” (Benedictine Simplicity pt.4)

Attending to the Present Moment

Brother Lawrence

Living in the present moment–attending to the people and situations in front of us right now. How difficult this is as so much tries to pull us away from the now. We are tempted to live in past regrets or angers. We worry about the future, forfeiting the now and what it has to offer. How often do we seek escape from people and situations.Two of the vows made by a member of a Benedictine community are stability and obedience. You make a lifetime promise to remain in the community, and therefore stay connected to people (stability). You promise to seek and follow God’s will at all times (obedience). You and I can embrace the spirit of these vows to ground ourselves in the present moment. Be wherever you are, seeking God’s will in it.

Acceptance is a huge part of living in the present moment. Accepting whatever is, right now, and proceeding accordingly, can be ridiculously difficult but amazingly liberating. It helps us to remain aware of God’s grace in the right now. God has everything, and we can proceed, no matter what, if we hold on to Him in abandoned trust. In his chapter on obedience, Benedict says that when a monastic is asked to do something, that person should “lay down whatever is in their hand, leaving it unfinished” and do what is asked of them. Holy hell, Batman, who does this?!? Is that sick and unnatural? Or is it infinite freedom?

It reminds me of a story about Brother Lawrence in which he was told one day, without warning, that something of considerable importance, very close to his heart, and for which he had worked a long time, could not be carried out. In fact, the opposite of what he had invested so much in had just been decided. His only reply was, “We must believe that those who made this decision did so for good reasons. Our task is to implement it and not to speak of it any more.” And that is exactly what he did, so completely in fact, that he never even spoke of it again, though he had many opportunities. My goodness, Brother Lawrence is someone to emulate. I can think of no greater example of simplicity and faith in Christ than this guy. He knew, lived, and voiced that God, needing nothing, does not look at our actions, but the love that is behind them. Does God need our action to get things done because He is so swamped with governing the universe and just can’t get to everything? Or does He simply desire our love which will naturally result in responsive service and gratitude to Him?

Finally, in Benedict’s chapter on humility, he asks the monastic to embrace even a difficult task without “weakening or seeking escape.” Accepting what is before us, rather than seeking escape, leads to simplicity. And this simplicity of acceptance leads to peace and freedom due to uninhibited faith and trust in God’s goodness and ability to bring good out of anything.

Did Jesus say anything about attending to the present moment? I believe He most brilliantly did when He told the story of “The Good Samaritan” as we call it. There is no more powerful description of the beauty of attending to the present moment than this. Attend to what is before you everyday. Love those who are closest to you and in your path as provided by YHWH. Keep your attention on who is in front of you that you can demonstrate agape to in the moment. It always cracks me up when someone says, “I’m looking for a ministry to get involved with somewhere.” I don’t doubt their heart, but just wonder why we complicate it like we do. It’s as simple as opening your eyes and ears and paying attention to what is already around you. It will be clear. It will be provided. A preacher friend of mine shared an illustration related to this. His dad was observing a water sprinkler one day and noticed that the driest part of the grass was that which was closest to the sprinkler. Don’t overlook what is right in front of you in order to go minister “over there.” Unless God tells you to go to London, of course!!! 🙂 Then you better get going.

I must say, for me, that if there does exist the “secret” to living this life, that it is living as Brother Lawrence did about 400 years ago. His little book has been instrumental in my life. Next to the Bible, I recommend it above all other books this world has to offer. If you want a copy, let me know. I pick them up for $2.97 at Agape Bookstore all the time. For a modern version, check out Greg Boyd’s incredible Present Perfect.

Living each moment surrendered to the love of God, fully trusting Him for everything is, in fact, EVERYTHING.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

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