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Being Present

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)

Be present. I am trying to learn this lesson. It’s so hard to unplug, isn’t it? Our culture tells us to take multi-tasking to the extreme. We must be entertained. We must be informed. We must be connected. We must be accessible at all times. Sometimes it feels like we are going many different directions at the same time.

This trend of distraction is a big topic of conversation – people who ruin wedding photographers’ shots by blocking their view or taking a flash picture right when the couple has their first kiss; a comedian who observed at his daughter’s ballet recital that other parents were not seeing their children on the stage except through their smart phone/iPad/video lenses blocking their view (and blocking their kids’ view from seeing them); commercials that show how wrong a first date in a restaurant can go when the daters keep checking their phones.

I went to a small concert the other night and forgot my phone. I felt so disconnected – what if someone was trying to contact me? – but then decided to be present, to enjoy it. I did that, but actually, it bothered me that people around me were not doing the same thing. They were texting or checking Facebook under the table, and not looking up. I’m sure they were enjoying the music as well, but it felt like I was appreciating the music more; it felt like I was alone in watching. I had to struggle with this (especially since I might have been doing the same thing, if I only had my iPhone). Moviegoers also get frustrated with others who keep checking their phones during the performance – the light is distracting; also, didn’t they see the 17 messages on the screen about turning off their cell phones? (Probably not, because they were looking down!)

Sometimes it feels like we are listening to so many different voices, that it is hard to be focused on what we are doing. That thought brings this verse to mind: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) Unite our hearts and thoughts, Lord! May we not continually be distracted from what You are doing right in front of us.

The struggle to unplug came up last week at a planning meeting for the new women’s Bible study in which I’m involved (come on by!**). The suggestion was made to advise the women who come to unplug/turn off/or at least silence their cell phones while we are in the Sanctuary for two hours. I first protested – what if women needed to hear from someone who needed them? But I was convinced when it was said emphatically that women need to unplug. Let us experience the power of worshiping the one true God together as women, without distraction, without the many different ways in which we are pulled. Let us take a breath – breathe in the worship, discuss the Word of God in small groups, learn, share, and listen to what God is saying.

God says in Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Psalmist goes on to say “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.” (Psalm 46:10-11) Be still. Be focused. Be aware. Most commentators say that “Selah” means to take a moment, to take in what was just said, let it sink in deep. Let us sink in deep and unplug. Let us be there for others. Let us be still and realize that God is always right there with us wherever we go, whatever we do; look to the Lord, and be present. Selah.

**Wednesday nights, October 2 – November 13, 7-9 pm, Creekside. See the website for more details.

Kelly can be reached via email.

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