BE in His presence I believed it; desired it; sang about it; taught and preached it; and intentionally sought to practice it, but it always seemed temporal, sometimes even illusive to me. With the multi-tasking, mainstream-milieu swirling about, the greatest continual challenge for me was simply “being in the moment” while actively living the ongoing, full life I was given to share with family and others.
“So much to do. So little time” aptly described my condition. DO had become more crucial than BE in the ministry. A caustic mix of responsibilities and expectations, self-imposed as well as imposed, became the mortar used to hold together the bricks of the Church I was dutifully building for God.
After a lifetime of pastoral ministry I transitioned into mentoring ministry (MAST Mentorship) to other pastors still in “it” building their churches for the glory of God. Not a ministry for the weak of heart, pastors can always use a mentor to come alongside for needed personal encouragement and perspective. So, it was in my heart to embrace this ministry for my new season ahead; my purpose clear.
Then came an unexpected and unwanted change of script for my life – PML, a progressively deteriorating viral disease affected my immune system, rendering me less and less able to function and live – a poor prognosis at best. To paraphrase Shakespeare, nothing focuses your life more than when to know you only have months to live. How was I to live, with the limited time I had left?
Once a pastor – now a patient, I found myself in a strange hospital bed with uncomfortable feelings and sensations, over which I had no control and no means of escape. The best medical staff were as certain of what they didn’t know as what they did know. What was I to do, with no future but only “the moment” in which to live?
In my struggle to beat the odds over the coming months, (which by God’s grace were granted) there became a paradigm shift from DOING for God to BEING with God. It was not so much a decisive choice as it was learned “the hard way;” by process. My personal abilities and freedoms gradually slipped away, like Summer slips into Fall and then into Winter. Would God’s ability become my hopeful Spring?
As a mother tightly holds her tantrum-possessed toddler until the child quiets, ceasing to struggle for control, so our Heavenly Father holds us firmly in our circumstances until we cease our striving, and enter the quieting, comforting, place of the moment, where He is trusted as both present and in control.
Trusting God can be be learned the easy way or the hard way. It appears that I chose the latter! To lie motionless, fully encased in a crazy, noise-infested MRI tube, and pray without moving my lips, was to BE in His presence. To more than once helplessly sit in a wheelchair, for endless minutes after some diagnostic test, waiting to be transferred back to my sterile hospital room, was opportunity to just BE. Trusting God is an intentional practice of my becoming less while He becomes more. To die is to live.
So also, to BE is more than DO. Although both are important, in truth, “the moment” is all we really have. The illusion of gaining control over what has already occurred, or seeking to obtain control over that which has yet to occur, is forever illusive. DO will always be with you. While you are able, BE in His presence.
“If the vessel of our soul is still being tossed by winds and storms, we should wake the Lord who has been resting with us all along, and He will swiftly calm the sea.” – Brother Lawrence