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by Rocky Glenn

Enjoying the moment is a personal choice a person makes to be present in what they are currently experiencing and to give that specific point in time their full self. It’s a decision to open oneself up to be vulnerable and a realization the moment may or may not go as we desire. How I treat the one standing in front of me at any given time is also how I decide to enjoy the moment. To not live in the moment is live a life distracted. Distractions keep us from being present and enjoying the moments we live. A distraction is anything which keeps a person from giving their full attention to something else.

The Distraction of Regret

All of us experience things in our lives we wish had not happened or we would have handled differently if given another opportunity. These things range from decisions we’ve made which caused unforeseeable, maybe harmful, outcomes to decisions others have made which had adverse, negative, and possibly even devastating, effects on our lives. Regret imprisons us when we live focused on the “what ifs” and “what could have beens” of those decisions. Replaying scenarios repeatedly in the theater of our mind, we fixate on every aspect of those situations reliving the pain, hurt, anger, and sorrow as if it had just happened. If the consequences are of our own making, we feel we deserve whatever negative results have occurred and wallow in the misery of our shame much like the prodigal son in the hog pen. However, when forced to accept another’s decision we believe is simply outrageous or unfair, we respond much like the prodigal’s older brother. I believe his response of anger to the celebration of his brother’s quickly turned to sorrow and regret with the realization he already had access to everything he was working to attain. Resisting the distraction of regret is not refusing to admit sorrow and remorse for what may have happened, it’s a refusal to remain in that moment and let it define who you are. We must let the past make us wiser, stronger, and grateful for what we have lived through and experience. Regret gives way to self-loathing and bitterness and steals you from the life happening right before your eyes.

The Distraction of What’s to Come

The last four to six weeks prior to reflecting on and sharing about enjoying the moment were a trying and frustrating time as I wondered what lie ahead. Since I no longer have the desire to one day be a worship pastor, what does the future hold? I didn’t begin the blog with aspirations I would one day write full-time, but is it now something to consider? Are there opportunities yet to be discovered which would allow more time for ministry and still support the family? Do I even want to be involved in a ministry at all? What exactly does ministry look like now anyway? Is there an opportunity ahead which would allow Shannon and me to spend more time together helping others while providing an income as well? If those opportunities presented themselves would I be willing to take the risks to make them succeed?

All these questions swirling in my head created a cloudy fog I had trouble navigating. Fatigue and restlessness plagued me as I just could not let go of figuring out what the future holds. Questions swirled in my head like a tornado waking up to start the day, sitting at my desk at work, spending time with the family, working out at the gym, and drifting to sleep at night. The distraction of what’s to come kept me from enjoying my everyday life and, no doubt, caused me to miss small moments of awe and wonder which occurred in daily interactions with coworkers, family, and friends.  I was so caught up in determining a destination, I was forgetting to enjoy the journey. While on vacation, in finishing a book I have been struggling to complete since January, I stumbled upon the prayer below from Thomas Merton in the closing pages:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

This prayer changed my thinking and reminded me I don’t need to know what lies or even have an idea of where I’m going. I simply needed to rest in the moment and satisfaction of my desire to please my Father and His full knowledge of my desire and willingness to lead me. It brought me to a point of consciously reminding myself to live and experience whatever moment I find myself in. I can remember very vividly afternoons spent in the ocean with my family thinking, “Nothing matters right now except the fact I am here with them and we are together. What’s for dinner is not important. The drive home in a few days does not matter. What may be happening at work right now is not important. I am here with my family getting battered by waves in the ocean, having water gun fights in the pool, and we are having the time of our lives.” After reading that prayer, making it my own, and making a mental decision to enjoy the moment, I can say this was quite honestly the best vacation we may have possibly ever had.

There’s one final distraction I want to discuss, but, due to the nature of the distraction and how it relates to the churchboy, I will hold it for my next post.

Until then, I leave you with the following reminders:

Regarding Regret: In the Broadway musical Rent, composer Jonathan Larson urges us, “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss,”

Regarding What’s to Come: In Switchfoot’s opening track of their Native Tongue album, we are implored to Let It Happen:

Let it happen, let it happen

Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows

You can’t make it get here sooner

Let it happen, let it happen

I don’t hold what the future holds

But I know you’re my future

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

 

 

 

 

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If you grew up in church and the religious organization, have you ever thought about the idea that maybe we were told some wrong things and taught some wrong interpretations?

Most of us who have been in the church for any length of time knows how the system works and it is really all we know. We listen to a pastor and figure they know what they are talking about because they were called by God. They went to a college institution to be taught everything about God by another human.

For my wife and me, the longer we were in the institution the more we felt uncomfortable and began questioning some things that just did not seem to fit together. I remember having several questions over time about doctrine or interpretation that did not make sense to me, or did make sense but not in the traditional teaching of the church. I knew if I asked the pastor or others in the church they would think I was wrong or falling away from my faith.

I think as time goes on being outside the walls of religion we have come to find that some of what we were taught all these years just might not be the way God intended. Man might have taught some wrong doctrines all based on human interpretation apart from the Spirit.

questions

We have found that asking questions usually leads to more questions. I think it is time we stop relying on a pastor or so-called spiritual leader to tell us all about God and start thinking for ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit within us who was sent to teach us. We have the mind of Christ so why do we still think we need another human being to tell us all about God.

There is nothing wrong with discussing thoughts and ideas with other people. It is not wrong to hear different views and interpretations, but in the end follow the leading of the Spirit and do not rely on the opinions of others.

Ask the Spirit to lead you into His truth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask God for guidance. Remember we are all kings and priests, we are all equally functioning parts of the body and Christ is our head. We do not need to rely on another human being to teach us about God. Listen for the quiet and calm voice of the Spirit and seek His guidance.

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I recently had a dream, one of those that was very clear and distinct, and one I didn’t forget as soon as I woke up. I was dreaming about my wife, and I can’t think of a better subject to dream about. We were out doing errands and after some time of walking around a store, she decided to go to the car and wait on me.

I kept walking around and ran into an old friend. We talked for several minutes, to the point I was getting worried that my wife would be wondering what happened to me. I finally moved on, then went to the car. Once outside, I could not find the car. I was wondering where my wife had gone. I kept thinking to myself, where are you?

Where are You

I saw another store close by, so went in thinking she was there. I walked around the store and a stranger unexpectedly stopped me and asked me a question. Shortly after that, I ran into another friend and we talked for what seemed like a long time. Again I began feeling nervous because my wife didn’t know where I was and I kept wondering where she had gone.

Once back outside I could still not find my wife or see our car. I was getting pretty nervous and kept wondering where my wife could be.

I finally got out my phone and called her. When she answered, I anxiously said where are you? She very quietly and calmly said, I’m right here.

As soon as she said that, I woke up. There she was laying right beside me, asleep, not having any idea what was going on inside my head. I just wanted to roll over and give her a big hug.

I got to thinking about why this dream seemed so clear and distinct. It certainly wasn’t anything profound, but I got to thinking about how we question God. We have unexpected distractions and events throughout our lives and we immediately ask God, where are you.

What hit me about this dream was it seemed God was saying that even when we wonder and question, even when we have the unexpected distractions, hardships and questions of life, He is right there ready to comfort us and encourage us by calmly saying, I’m right here.

Our Father told us that He is with us always, He would never leave us nor forsake us. He isn’t a God who is distant and can’t be found, He lives within us. We are His temple, or home, here on earth. He told us that He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.

Even when we feel like He is far away, when we question Him and wonder where He is and why He isn’t doing something, we can know that He is right there beside us. Even better than that, He is within us.

When you have those times of wondering where God is, look deep within yourself and listen for that still, small voice that says… I’m right here.

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Do you find yourself questioning things more than you used too? I know I do.

As Christians, we’ve always been taught that we need to have the answers. Study to show thyself approved meant, you must have an answer for everything people come up with so you can prove your beliefs are right.

I remember having questions in the past, but I basically blew them off and buried them, thinking I was wrong to even think such things. As time went on, the questions kept popping up and I began to realize that questioning was not wrong.

I believe God accepts us, questions and all. I am hoping that one day I’ll have more answers, mostly for my own sake and not necessarily to defend my beliefs.

Welcometochurch

I think the modern-day church and religion in general do not like questions, at least not hard questions. Especially questions that make us wonder about the basic beliefs they teach. They like to have all the answers, and answers that fit into their particular belief and doctrine.

In his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire: Giving up Our Religious Rites and Legal Rights’,  Jeremy Myers makes a statement that is oh so true: “And as is the nature with questions, asking hard questions rarely leads to answers, but only to more questions”

I think God is much bigger than what the church makes of him sometimes. They try to fit everything into a box and don’t like people asking questions that require out-of-the-box thinking.

It seems to me the spirit within, the spirit of truth, brings up questions that the religious system taught us and we always just accepted. Now, rather than suppressing these questions, I have allowed them to surface and truly seek God for guidance.

On February 9, 2015, Mick Mooney posted an article on Facebook, part of which says: “But who has the faith to ask questions with the intention of seeking the answers to them? Who can let their foundation be not a doctrine or dogma that must be defended, but Christ himself who needs no defense? For it is those who have their foundation solely upon Christ, who can walk in their faith without fear of questions, but rather they walk in their faith knowing that God is lighting their path with questions, and it is these very questions that are paving the path that the Spirit of God is guiding them upon”.

If you are feeling guilty for having questions, I have found it best to stop feeling that way and keep asking the questions. That is the best way to continue growing and learning in our walk with God. Even when we don’t get the answers, we should continue to be asking and seeking the truth from our Father.

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To those of us who have grown up in ‘church’, have you ever felt that you needed to know all the answers?

When a non-believer questions your faith, or asks something about the bible, do you feel you have to know the answer and be able to explain it to them?

I know I have always felt that way. Although the more I think about it, and the more I run into people who have all sorts of questions, I have come to realize that I don’t have all the answers.

Even my wife and I talk and have questions we can’t answer. We’ve come to realize that God is too big for us to have Him all figured out. If we don’t have all the answers for ourselves, how could we have all the answers for everyone else?

Basically, questioning is not wrong. I think we’ve been taught that we shouldn’t question the pastor, the bible, our faith, even God, but God isn’t afraid of our questions. What is wrong with us saying ‘I don’t know’?

Do not know

Admitting that you don’t know does not mean you aren’t a good ‘christian’. Admitting that you don’t know doesn’t mean your faith is shallow or we don’t believe God.

If we knew everything, what kind of a God would we be serving anyway? The Spirit will be teaching us during our entire life here on earth, and we still won’t begin to know it all.

While Jesus was on earth, he basically told stories and parables. A lot of the time, he did not give a direct answer. He usually asked another question rather than give a direct, set answer. I suppose if he gave a direct answer, we would have made it a basic doctrine by now anyway.

Don’t be afraid to question. That is the best way to learn. God is perfectly capable of guiding us to the truth in His timing.

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