A friend of mine said to me the other day, “space and time are not fundamental to human experience”. I suppose he’s right — in our redeemed, yet still fallen state we must suffer the perception of space and time in a way that God does not; that we were not originally created as icons of Himself to do. This is probably why we torture ourselves with thoughts of the past and anxieties about the future. We were not meant to experience the past and the future apart from the present. C.S. Lewis stated it beautifully:
“…the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity or with the Present–either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”
Every moment is the present moment for God. It stands to reason that, in the truest sense of reality, the same goes for you and me. I’ll cut to the chase before we get too deep into quantum weirdness . . .
All of our decisions and actions are linked, not with distance in between, but in an organic, symbiotic, overlapping fashion where they form a kaleidoscopic lens of beauty that is called our life story. I have had very few individual moments where I was fully present to the present. One such moment was during my master’s program at Lipscomb University in 2013. I had entered theology school still a neophyte in my Christian walk and figured, “well, might as well go all-in”. Generally speaking, every class in which I sat turned my mind into a prison. Historical theology had me ruminating on all of the conflicting theological traditions, wondering whether the gates of Hell had prevailed or not and to what degree. The study of eschatology made me anxious. I was starving to death at the buffet because my analysis paralysis left me incapable of deciding what to feast upon. Then I had “Spiritual Formation & Guidance” with Dr. Jackie Halstead.
While I was searching for truth, this class gave me life. Learning to be vulnerable, to engage in the classical spiritual disciplines, to read the saints, to sit in silence and love solitude . . . this is what I had always hoped life in Christ would look like. As Christians, we’re pretty good at quoting the past and speculating about the future; but, to live a life in the Spirit that communes with the past and lives the future now is a Grace that we can only enjoy when we drop the mind into the heart and become aglow with the divine energies (as the Orthodox say). Every experience in class and on retreat left me radically different than I was prior. For once, I was not concerned with tearing everything apart but rather metabolizing it as it came. Discernment became my disposition. I was living with that kaleidoscopic lens front and center and I knew only one thing: this had to be my life from now on, and indeed already was.
Six years later, or so, I found myself enrolled in the Spiritual Direction Certificate program with Selah. This again was something into which I effortlessly drifted as I was completely present to that particular moment of discovery. In a way, it was a continuation of that initial experience in Jackie’s class back in grad school. I could have questioned whether or not it was happenstance that this institute was founded and I happened to have a connection to it; however, that never really came to my mind. I only recognized, in some mystical way, that this was always a part of my journey, even before it came to pass in space and time. Had I tried to plan for it or find it, I would have missed it. Had I sat wondering what would become of my future as someone feeling called to this ministry of spiritual direction, I would have missed all of the little Graces that led me here.
What I’m hoping to share with you is this: forget everything that is not now. Be fully awake to the present Graces gifted to you by the One who loves you. Only then can you participate in the fullness of life. Only then when you taste and see that the Lord is good past, present, future, eternally now. If you’re wondering whether Selah’s Spiritual Direction certification is a program you should pursue, as maybe you are contemplating as you read this, stop wondering and start resting in attentive prayer to the present moment. This present moment is an eternal one. And the Eternal One will guide you as, in fact, He already has and is.