By Sarah Pemberton
Before school began this fall, I spent a weekend on a retreat with the Campus Ministry Team. This was a time to reflect on our summers and where God wants to take us this year. The first day of this retreat, Mark DeYounge led a devotional as we sat in a park just outside of Sioux Falls, SD. He spoke about being present.
He spoke of the ways that we often get caught up in the past- the mistakes we’ve made, and the good memories we treasure- and how we get caught up equally in pining for the future. When it comes to living in this moment right here and now, we are awful at being present.
What would it look like to be a people of the present? To not want to be anywhere else, with anyone else, at any other time?
This question has been haunting me since.
I am always looking forward to the next big thing. Looking forward to the next concert, the next trip home, the next break from classes. Or looking back at the last year of my life, wishing I were still studying in London, or still with the new friends I have made. Very rarely have I been able to say that I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else than right here in this moment.
Just last weekend, I had seven beautiful people in my room watching movies. Seven people I actually enjoy being around. Yet, in that moment, I was only thinking about the other places I could be. I was wondering whether someone would text me, or what I would be doing had I accepted the offer to go out.
I refused to be content. Why? I get so caught up in not wanting to miss out. My discontentment is stealing my present. When will I finally tell my mind to be content? When will I stop wishing my days away with my mind somewhere else?
It seems that we are a people of discontentment. We want more: the newest, the biggest, the best. Yet, ironically, when it comes to our relationships with God, we are fully content to settle. We don’t see our own constant need to hunger for our source of life. God is constantly working on our behalf for our good; growing us and shaping us into the person He intends us to be.
So how do we rest content in his pursuit of us, but also remaining constantly hungry for more of him? I’m not exactly sure, but He tells us to put out of mind the things of the past, to focus our eyes on the new things He brings for us today. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” – Isaiah 43:18-19
Thanks Sarah! As you pointed out, perhaps it’s in being fully present to the moment, that we’re more alive to ourselves, more alive to those around us, and more alive to the One who is deeply in love with us and who is worthy of all our strivings. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6-7, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”