The moist ground slowly enveloped my boots with each step I took. I could feel the air getting colder with each short breath I took. The trees were transitioning from a dense, lush forest to looming boulders and slick rocks.
The top of this mountain was near.
My wife had this “great” idea of hiking up to see a fire lookout here in Washington. She loves being outdoors and feels closer to God when she’s in His creation. I, on the other hand, can hear God from the comfort of my favorite local artisan coffee shop. Yeah, I know, she’s cooler than me.
I obliged her request to see this random shack someone built on top of rocks 8,000 feet in the air. So, after two hours of hiking intense elevation, climbing over rocks because they were “a part of the trail,” and always looking down at my feet to make sure I didn’t plummet to my death, my wife and I finally made it to the top.
The view was amazing, but as I looked around our setting, I realized something. I’m going to have to climb down from this mountain. How am I going to do that? I barely made it to the top alive, and now my wife expects me to make it down, too? Where is the escalator or gondola ride? They couldn’t think about that when they were building this thing?
That’s when I noticed Sara looking at me, and at that moment she said something profound and put my spirit in check: “Can you just BE here, please?”
What Does Scripture Say About Being Present?
And the LORD said to Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give you tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them Exodus 24:12
Moses went for a hike, too! This hike though wasn’t just to reconnect with God but also to receive instruction on where to lead his displaced people. The instruction from God for Moses to climb the mountain is interesting because God knew that Moses needed to get away from all the voices and distraction so that he could focus on what He had to say.
And like most of us, Moses is his own worst enemy, and God knew this. That’s why He threw in the extra “and be here” statement. When we’re climbing mountains, accomplishing goals, traveling to a new location, whatever our journey is, we all dream of getting there. We imagine ourselves by-passing the process and being at the top of the mountain. Then when we finally get to that moment, we’re thinking about that next step. How are we going to get down? What bills need to be paid now? How do I get customers? What do I do once I get clients?
Sometimes, God is calling us just to be. To be in the moment that He has called us to experience. To enjoy this view that He has brought you to. We can’t enjoy the moment when we are in a state of perpetual planning or worrying. Loosen your grip just for a moment and just be present.
Don’t dwell on your past.
Don’t fret about your future.
Be on the mountain.
I’ll be honest, this whole being in the present thing isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard to turn off the world around you. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just hard. So, here are three practical tips on how to be present in your life.
The first minutes of your day should be devoted to prayer and meditation. I talk about prayer and how to pray in this devotion here. Meditation allows you to create a margin to see solutions and hear God speak directly in your life.
2. Give Back
Every day find someone that you can give back to. How can you help in their journey? When you shift your focus from yourself to someone else’s needs, it forces you to be in the present. This not only helps them but it helps you. How can you contribute something to someone in this world? Do THAT every day.
3. “Step Back” Alarm
Pick a specific time every day and set an alarm to remind you to “Step Back.” During this moment take the time just to breathe. Stop what you are doing and look around you. Walk over to the window and gaze out at God’s beauty. Remind yourself why you’re alive, and all that God has blessed you with.
Today, may you be fully present. May you stop and breathe in what God has for you. May you see God in the valleys, the mountain tops, and the in-between.