Being fully present

Apr 25, 2016 by

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I ate my best apple several years ago. It was a large mottled Gala, and juice ran down my chin. It deserves the title of ‘best’ not for its quality, but because more than any meal I’ve eaten, that apple had my full and total attention.

Most of us aren’t present to life that deeply.

We eat distractedly, pray with an agenda rather than intimacy in mind, and listen to plan our response rather than understand. We can’t even watch TV anymore without a second screen in front of us.

How eager we are to hide from the present! How easy to assume that’s just what it means to be human.

At the heart of the Christian faith is openness to presence. When asked God’s name, the response came back: “I am,” not “I was” or “I will be.” Emmanuel God is found in the sound of sheer silence, in our willingness to “be still and know that I am God.” The incarnation of Jesus was the most profound way God revealed divinity to us — here and now, in a particular person who longs for our full attention.

Being fully present means we’re fully honest about who we are in that moment. It means we set aside our ego, our defense mechanisms, and the masks we use to hide our wounds and show up as-is. It means we must tell the truth about being unwell and about our spiritual weakness. It means we can freely and without condemnation drag our unevangelized zones into the loving presence of a God who already knows they exist.

Being fully present means we’re willing to believe in the God that promises us that “power is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Cor. 12:9)

Our personal healing is inextricably linked to vulnerability. And when we’re courageous enough to practice the presence of God, we find ourselves more OK in our own presence.

It’s out of this presence, this core truth in the depth of our being that our true self is dusted off and free to live without shame.

This spring I have found healing and hope as I’ve intentionally practiced being present with my senses and soul for a specified time each day. As I have become attentive to God I have found a new openness to being Marty, warts and worries and all. Open yourself to the presence of God. Embrace the you you find inside. Open yourself to the inverted truth that our soul’s greatest wounds will become our life’s greatest strength.

God longs to be fully present with you. Perhaps there is no better time than the present to take Jesus up on his invitation, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourself and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

Maybe there you’ll also find your best apple.

Marty Troyer is pastor of Houston Mennonite Church: The Church of the Sermon on the Mount and writes at blog.chron.com, where this post originally appeared. He tweets @thepeacepastor and is on Facebook.


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  • Arthur Sido

    “At the heart of the Christian faith is openness to presence.” Um, no/ The heart of the Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the making of peace between God and man, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. “Openness to presence”, whatever that means, isn’t even in the top twenty.

  • Aaron Yoder

    Marty, where is the Scriptural support to the statement of ’embrace the you inside?’ Without an active relationship with Jesus, my inner thoughts, motivations and priorities are incredibly sinful and unholy. I resonate with David’s lament, “I have no good apart from you, Lord” (Psalm 16:2). Are you saying that you’ve found inner peace with your sins in a place other than Jesus Christ? Perhaps you are not saying that, but this article could use some clarity on that subject.

  • Marty Troyer

    Aaron and Arthur,
    What felt clear to me may not have been clear.

    I speak repeatedly about being present with God, and God being present with us:
    – God is the one present with us as Emmanuel.
    – I speak of the incarnation
    – “drag our unevangelized zones INTO THE LOVING PRESENCE OF A GOD”
    – “practice the presence of God”
    – “become attentive to God”

    Aaron, I definitely find comfort in God’s presence. Where else can I hear about grace, and God speaking truth over me that I am a child of God? In this article I am more focused on healing than I am sinning. So being present with God for me in this particular piece frees me to accept my acceptance.

    Arthur, I’m certain that the incarnation would make your top 20 list, wouldn’t it? How many times are we promised “Behold, I will be with you always.” That is such beautiful, amazing, transformative, empowering, inspiring, healing, hopeful, graceful news that the only response worthy of such good news is faith.

    Thanks gentlemen, for allowing me to clarify, and in doing so celebrate the goodness of presence.

    Marty Troyer