In the moment

Woman with Arms in the AirJust this week, my young son was scheduled for a dental appointment. My husband and I knew he had a cavity, and I dreaded him facing the ordeal of the dental drill. Nate called to say that x-rays had revealed that the root of Jack’s baby tooth had dissolved, meaning that the tooth would be out soon and so drilling was not necessary.

Oh, the hallelujahs that followed as we hung up. I thanked God for the wonderful news and twirled around the living room with my sleeping infant daughter in my arms.  I was on an enormous high: Yes, there is a God! He is listening!

I’m reading a book at the moment called Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro. The daughter of an orthodox Jew and a secret atheist, Shapiro struggles with matters of faith and it’s a fascinating read. Shapiro writes:

I have friends who call themselves atheists or agnostics. Friends who are believers. But the majority of people I know fall into a gray area, a category I would call the disenchanted. I can’t believe God would – fill in the blank. The bottom line: How could God condone – or possibly create – so much suffering in the world? If God exists, he’s either indifferent to our pain, or sadistically inflicting it. I refuse to believe in a God like that, they say.

At one point, she addresses the issues of good news vs. bad news and how we respond to it.

Something bad happens, there is no God. Something good happens, we thank him. 

And here I was, twirling around my living room because there was a God.

I wouldn’t have consciously thought that there was no God had the news been different, but the fact of the matter was, I was braced for bad news. I expected it. I absolutely believe that God is fully aware of my concerns, worries and needs – but like anyone else, I have had bad news before.

What does it mean, when our prayers, whatever form they take, appear at times to be answered, and at other times ignored? Does God listen selectively? Does he pick and choose when to visibly come through for us? If good fortune is a sign of God watching out for us, what is bad fortune a sign of?

These are age-old questions and I certainly don’t have the answers to them. But what I am finding is that God is most visible to me when I slow down and live in the moment. When I stop anxiously scanning the horizon for darkening clouds. When I stop living in the past or the future and live instead, soaking in the beauty of this moment. It’s then that I notice all the things that really are, to me, evidence of a God of pure love all around me: trees and flowers, snowflakes, each one unique, the bright blue irises in my child’s eyes, the warmth of the sun on a cold winter day, a healed scrape or cough. I could go on and on. Shapiro concludes her thoughts on this topic with:

I prayed for the willingness to pray – not to an indifferent God, certainly not to a punishing and vengeful God, not to a God who was watching out for me – but to the God I felt all around me, the more I looked.

I have no doubt that the Triune God danced around my living room with me at the good news for my son. I believe that the source of the good news was God, the source of all good things. Had the news been bad, I believe that that same God would have surrounded me with love and comfort – with his very self – in my living room. But if I wasn’t living in that moment and in the future at Jack’s appointment instead, I’d have missed it.

So I’m resolving to slow down and to live in the moment – for many reasons – but most of all because I don’t want to miss the millions of ways that God communicates his care and love to me. Every moment.

– Jeannine Buntrock

1 comment so far

  1. Jerome Ellard on

    Yep – living in the moment in the awareness, unforgotten, that God truly is Immanuel – God WITH us! A challenge every day!

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