Rushing to the Present

This is the devotion I submitted for the Custer County Chief

Thank you to The Chief for printing weekly devotions from the pastors of the Ministerial Association. 

A line from an old Alabama song came into my head recently that goes like this, “I’m in a hurry to get things done. Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun” (“I’m in a Hurry,” 1992). Have you found yourself rushing around feverishly trying to get things done recently? The viral pandemic – the which we’re presently trying to slow through physical distancing – has had an odd effect in our lives. For some of us, life and all its activities have come screeching to a halt. While, for others of us, life’s pace seems to have quickened and intensified: just one more errand, one more job, one more thing to complete before stricter shelter-in-place restrictions become a reality, maybe. Our lives, right now, are not normal, and this is hard, to put it mildly.

In a devotion, pastor Adam Hamilton shared this unattributed quote:

“In the rush to get back to normal, let us use this time to determine which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” (Facebook, 3/31/30).

Likely, it’s too soon to get all rosy-tinted and make a list of ways physical distancing and modified quarantine are blessings to us. Rather, life may still be too abnormal, too uncertain, too challenging for many of us right now to get to this reflective space. And yet, the changes effected by physical distancing are challenging me to live into practices that bring me hope, help me connect with God, and ease my fears and anxieties.

One such practice is the breath prayer. It’s a simple way of prayer or meditation through mindful breathing. We breathe in deeply and slowly. Then, as we exhale, we speak to ourselves (out loud or in our minds) a phrase of prayer. We can do it with any phrase we like – anything that helps us find our center or connects us to God.  I like using brief phrases from scripture like this one:

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (Ps 16:1, NIV).

Praying like this helps me center my life in God. It reminds me of who God is, and it helps me to focus my energies for each present task before me. In a way, breathing helps me focus my rushing, not toward the future – a time when things return to normal or I’ve accomplished some next thing – but toward the present. Rushing toward the present means seeking to let the past be the past and the future be the future, and to live and dwell in the only place and time God calls me to be, here and now. And, in the present, with worries and fears given to God, we can embrace the bits of beauty, grace, and life that are before us today. Peace be with you.

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