Finding Jesus in the Present

A few months ago, when I was struggling with anxious feelings caused by our nasty and unwelcome friend – the Delta variant – a colleague recommended I start learning about mindfulness as a way to stay focused on the present, so I wouldn’t worry so much about the future. I embraced this idea. Being alive to the present moment wasn’t always easy, but as I got better at tuning into the small details of what surrounded me in each moment, I began to see beauty, calm, and the finer details of the world around me and within me. I began a daily practice of meditating, taking walks outside, and breathing deeply until my racing thoughts subsided.

As fall stretched toward winter, and we began to approach the season of Advent, I assumed I would have to put away my mindfulness practices for a while so I could turn my thoughts to the themes of Advent – hope, peace, love, and joy.  I would need to switch to new daily practices to really do justice to this beautiful season.

As you can probably guess, I was very wrong about this! Mindfulness—the practice of being alive to the present moment—is the perfect mindset for Advent.

Advent means “coming”—and during this season we anticipate the coming of Christ in three ways. First, we await his coming as the baby Jesus, born on Christmas Day. Next, we consider the time when Christ will come again at the end of the world. And finally, in between those two events, we have the coming of Jesus into our lives each day.  It is this third one that I find myself drawn to these days, and it often becomes the most hidden aspect of Advent. Jesus comes to us every moment of our lives, but do we always recognize His presence?

Each and every moment that we live is an opportunity to encounter God. Jesus is present in the smallest details. But we have to be aware, alert, and awake to notice.

Advent is a time for being awake, and we are called to reflect on the ways we may have been “sleeping” in our lives. When we get lost in regrets of the past or worries about the future, we are in many ways asleep to all that is happening around us. This is exactly how I had been behaving in late summer with all my fears about what the future would bring. I was missing a lot of very good and important things that were happening all around me!  

This is not to say that every moment in the present will be joyful. In the words of Henri Nouwen: “God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.” We may have troubles that exist in our present moment, but that doesn’t mean we need to pile on with potential troubles that “may” happen in the future. Fearing the future can lead us to doubt God’s love. Remaining firmly rooted in the present lets us feel God’s love—through joy or pain.

Every moment you spend with God, you are living in the Light. When we are present to that Light, we are ready to answer God’s call. We will see and hear what we are being called to do from moment to moment. We don’t have to worry about the future because the beauty of God’s love is evident in all that we see around us.  

So I don’t really need to set aside my daily mindful practices this Advent season. Instead, I will invite Jesus to meet me there. When I’m breathing deeply I will call forth my own moment of Divine creation when God breathed the breath of life into my nostrils. When I take a walk, I will imagine that Jesus is walking beside me, pointing out all the wonders of creation in my path. When I meditate, I will soak in God’s presence and allow myself to be filled up with the love that can only be found in the coming of Christ. 

Wishing you a blessed and holy Advent season. May your spirit be alive to each precious moment!

Background photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

The Dawn of Redeeming Grace

Heavenly Father,
On this quiet, holy night,
You sent us your only Son
A Savior to live here in our midst

How could we begin to imagine
All that He would do?

A Savior to show us the WAY
To guide us on our path toward you
To be our Light and our Truth
A Shepherd for every lost sheep

A Savior to teach us how to LOVE
To teach us what it really means to love
Beyond measure
Beyond compare

A Savior to reveal God’s GRACE
Mercy we do not deserve
Kindness when we fall short
Forgiveness that changes us forever

A Savior to SAVE
Victory over death
The gift of eternal life
Eternal freedom….eternal love

How could we begin to imagine?
On that quiet December night
Jesus, the tiny infant
Would one day pay the wages of sin

For ALL of us
For the love of all of us

The wise men brought gifts
But they cannot compare
To the amazing gifts Jesus brings
Love…Joy…Peace…Freedom

The dawn arrives
Christ, the Redeemer is born!
We celebrate with joy in our hearts
Love bursting forth
Glory to the newborn King!

Hearing God’s Whisper ministry wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!