The expression “in the moment” is an odd thing. We talk about intense times of hectic involvement with terms like “in the moment”. Athletes refer to certain games, or quarters, or even the final minute of a contest with this idea of being “in the moment”. Obviously its mean to convey the gravity of a situation by saying that in that moment there was nothing else in view except the task at hand or the attaining of a specific goal. We get “in the moment” anytime our perspective grows narrow and close.
Being “in the moment” is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of times when being “in the moment” is the only thing that would allow a soldier to survive, a sailor to make port, or a singer to perform with excellence. But there are times when we find ourselves “in the moment” in a way that is detrimental. Generally when that something other than our own decisions have flung us into an “in the moment” situation we are not “in” a healthy “moment”.
In CS Lewis’ book The Great Divorce, this curious quote is found:
This moment contains all moments.
Now, The Great Divorce is a unique book and there is some context that would be required to fully grasp all that is happening, but the quote itself sparks many thoughts even standing on its own.
I believe that in this quote there is a bit of perspective that is key to living with any kind of peace. The fallen nature of our world, the wars and conflicts that happen both in our streets and outside of our borders, the tenuous grasp that our (and other) government has on the knot that holds our American way of life together…all of these things are fuel for unrest, stress, and anxiety. I’ve seen it more in the last 6 years than ever before in my lifetime, the acerbic and poisonous nature of political rhetoric spewing from people who aren’t, nor desire to be, politicians is everywhere. Dividing lines are drawn over issues that at best should be passionately discussed over dinner, not shouted across streets over policemen in riot gear. This just one example, but a powerful one, of the unhealthy nature of lives lived “in the moment”. It seems as though there is an inability to move out of the darkness of those moments to any kind of transcendent perspective.
Then along comes David and his prayer-songs. As I read this morning, this verse resonated with my soul:
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I
David’s prayer to God here is so key to the Christian’s peace of mind and stability. He cries out in his distress, as his chest is feeling cavernous and empty, the trappings of the “moment” are surrounding him and he lays out a request to the King eternal and immortal to elevate his perspective. “Lead me higher!”, he cries. “I need to see life and death and pain and joy and truth and love and work and loss and family and money and stress and war and myself in the way that YOU see them God…I am trapped ‘in the moment’ and I desperately need the God’s-eye view that only comes from standing in Your presence on the high rock.”
I wonder if, in those times when we find ourselves “in the moment”, our prayers grow very focused on our situations and very blurry with regard to God’s sovereign control of everything. I don’t think that our prayers and songs in the midst of hard times need to be more mechanically sound or theologically flowery or even heart-felt and passionate. No, I believe the problem with some of our prayer habits is found in the elevation not the determination, passion, or precision.
Though the skirmishes we engage in on a day-to-day basis are fought face to face with the opponents of pride, greed, lust, ourselves, etc… the victory that is available to us is found in the transcendent, eternal God. We the redeemed, to use the cadence of the Scriptures, should be “in the moment but not of the moment”. A God’s-eye view of our successes and failures reveals them to both be very important as well as one small aspect of our eternal lives. No failure of ours is heinous enough to destroy our future, and no victory of ours is enough to give us a break from the battle. No earthly pain should ever be seen as never-ending, and no earthly comfort should ever be seen as a right that we are owed by God or anyone else.
May we pray today as those who long, like Moses, to hide in the cleft of the rock, high above the problems of the world, nearer to the glory of Christ than we dare admit. So when we come back down the hill, as the old song says, the things of this earth grow strangely dim. The “moments” that seemed to take us hostage no longer have as much strength. The problems, though not gone, are less dense and heavy.
And as a needed clarification, for those in whom the Spirit of Christ resides, the elevation we seek is found in turning “in” to His presence, not turning “out” to try and locate Him. He never leaves us, and therefore we are never more than a breath away from the heights of clarity.
May we gain the God’s-eye view as He increases our soul’s elevation.