The other day I heard a quote that stuck with me, ‘The present is a present that keeps on giving’. I thought about it for a moment and promptly agreed. We’ll always have our present moment, this eternal now, till we don’t. I suppose one of the possible keys in that quote speaks to our awareness of the present moment, and to what we do with it. Or to put it in other words, it’s possible to argue that the quote is about how we live our lives, our present, or gift, unpacked moment after moment in this journey we are all on.
It usually surprises me when all the “messages” I receive – from random songs, from friends, from diverse conversations, from books, from sermons and so on - align. As if all these channels are conspiring to deliver a clear note that I interpret to be from God himself. And more often than not, it’s quite on point; exactly what I need to hear. So, as I had been pondering on that quote, I was somewhat surprised to find out that the Sunday message at church aligned perfectly with the idea of the ‘present (or gift) that keeps on giving’.
Now, it’s not difficult to imagine that the source and foundation of the ability to live grounded in the present and in a state of generous giving is God. I mean, who else has done it impeccably but Him? But if we are called to live abundantly and as mobile blessings and ambassadors of Christ, there has got to be some steps we can take to make way for that, right?! He wouldn’t call us to live in a way that is absolutely unattainable and that does not require our participation. It’s been his habit to use us in a collaborative way. We do our share, He does his – which is often the part we label impossible. We share the gospel, He saves. We pray, He heals. We raise our hands, He parts the seas – well, at least Moses can say that one for sure! So, if we’re called to live a higher life, as true followers and imitators of Christ, we’ve got to get our parts clear. And, perhaps because Christ knew about the ability of some of us to overthink and over-analyze every detail, He made it simple and quite straightforward for us: Love God and love others (Mark 12:28-31).
And that brings me back to the quote I heard about the present being the present that keeps on giving. Before gifts, service, words and touch, I would say it’s our presence that conveys love in the simplest manner for me. Before you can offer help, give gifts, offer encouraging words, or a kind touch you’ve got to be present, to be aware, and to know what the need is so that you can meet it. You’ve got to share of yourself – even when you’re miles away. The ability to be present and involved with God and others is our avenue to fulfilling our calling to love God and our neighbors. It is easier to love our neighbor if we are present for them enough to see through a lens of compassion, potential, and acceptance.
It may sound easy. But I definitely believe that to begin living a life that is like a present that keeps on giving requires courage, discipline, patience, faith and love. We’ve got to be courageous to let go of our excuses that keep us from being the true blessing we’re called to be. We’ve got to pursue discipline that enables us to put our life in order and allows us to care for ourselves so that we have something to offer. We need to intentionally make time for God and others, while not overcommitting by setting fair and good boundaries. We’ve got to have patience with the process of change in ourselves and in others as we strive to honor His calling. We’ve got to have faith in Him ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20) and trust His work. And we’ve got to have love, we’ve got to be grounded in love. Now that is something He definitely has to offer. As usual, He first offered it to us and then commanded that it be shared. The main thing here is to remember, abide in, believe, and repeat that He loves us so deeply, so truly, so completely, so intentionally, and with so much certainty and awareness that nothing could ever separate us from this crazy faithful love (Romans 8:31-39). It’s been demonstrated over and over again. It is true. He loves us. And as we live grounded in that truth, we’re enabled to love others as well. We’re enabled to be a blessing; a catalyst of others’ growth. As we share the provision, power, and control God has given us to share, we empower the people that cross our paths to have their needs met. This way, they too can meet others’ needs, to live their own lives and make their own choices. By practicing this, we give ourselves and others the chance to be led by God’s Spirit and follow his influence rather than our own.
If it all sounds way too hard or impossible, let us remember the words of 1 John 4:10, ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ If He was willing to do that for us, how much more wouldn’t He be willing to do as we move towards his heart and strive to do his will? Would it be too crazy to believe that He would honor our cry for help as we attempt and stumble to do his will? I don’t think so. I kind of believe He’s just that kind of valentine!
If you missed this week's sermon, check it out here.