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The Urgency of Being Present

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This world has always been sick, but it seems to be getting worse by the day. The Orlando shooting, the young man whose death was caught on Facebook live, a bright-hearted singer suddenly being shot and killed while signing autographs for her fans, terrorist groups overseas in different parts of Africa stealing, torturing, and killing children and mothers and others. It’s as if a sheet of darkness has covered the earth with unabashed injustice, boldly stealing life from whomever it pleases. These things make my stomach churn and prick me awake. They’ve caused me to think more about life and death and what it all means. And thinking about these things has led me to dwell heavily on my biggest, baddest fear:

Dying without having been present.

Human beings with precious souls have been lost. They died. Some have gone ahead of us to be with the Father, and some have been lost forever.

Forever, I said. If that doesn’t break your heart, then take a moment and let it sink in.

People have DIED. And not only have they died; they’ve died in their sin. If you’re a Christian with knowledge of even just the basics, you know that when we die under sin, we die eternally separated from God, apart from the free gift of eternal life that is only found in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). And these people have families and friends who loved them deeply. They have mothers and fathers and siblings and cousins and friends and acquaintances who have been left with deep, loud pangs of hurt and anguish. And you know what else? Who’s to say that it couldn’t have been you? or me? or someone you love or know? Because it could have. It’s not far-fetched by any means.

Recently, Rob Bell came out with a book called “How to Be Here,” in which he offers a here and now approach to being present. It encourages people to pursue their dreams in their current lives, but in his continuous drift away from biblical Christianity he misses the whole point of why being present even matters, which has a serious, eternal significance that cannot be denied. This is dangerous—along with many of his teachings—and therefore I hope to share what it truly means to be present and why it matters so desperately.

That being said, I beg you, and I beg myself, to cut the crap and be present. Now. For two reasons that I pray by the grace and power of God will never leave our broken minds.

1. We’re not here for ourselves.

I wonder, Christian, what do you say your purpose is? Ultimately? To make a living and get by? To get married and have a family and enjoy them? To be successful and achieve your dreams? To make the world a better place, with only this temporary dwelling place in mind? To make people feel good? For a little while? For our temporary life that is but a vapor here on earth? No. To all of that. They’re surely parts of life, but not the end itself. This is not our purpose.

Our purpose is to love and worship the Lord God so much that we can’t help but share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that those who are still lost might be saved forever. So that even death on Earth loses any power to snatch them from the Father’s hand. We are here as lights for everyone without Life in this sin-drenched world, messengers of the good news of Jesus, His very ambassadors (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

We are in the business of saving souls. That is why we’re still here.

No, we can’t save souls. But our God can use us to accomplish this by the unimaginable power of His Holy Spirit. If He didn’t have us here to be used as vessels, He’d simply bring us home. Why would He keep us here to be blessed with lesser, earthly blessings in the midst of an atrocious world when we could be directly in His presence forever along with all other imaginable heavenly blessings?

2. We’re not promised tomorrow.

We have NEVER been promised that, yet we make plans for years from now, wishing away the present and dreaming for the future. “This is where I’m at for now, but I’ll really glorify you later, God,” we say. “I can’t wait until I have children and raise them to fear you, Lord, but for now I’ll settle with being a wife,” we say. “I just have to get through working at this job for a while, but when I land my dream job I’ll really serve you and love people for you, God,” we say.

To all of that I say NO.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 28:44). That day could be tomorrow. It could be in the middle of you reading this sentence.

But worse, a dear lost one’s life could be suddenly swept from this Earth. The sin of man could snatch his very life, while you and I kept saying, “I’ll be present when I’m in the phase of life that I’ve been dreaming of.” Then what?

No, it would not be your fault. God doesn’t need you—not at all. But He does want to use you. That’s why you’re here. And I don’t know about you, but I do not want to have been so caught up in daydreams of the future that I’d failed to be present enough to love—truly love—those near to me and those dear to me, so much that they wanted to know more of Christ, or had at least gotten a glimpse of Him from the way that I lived and loved them with a full heart, or had at least heard one time from me what kind of love Jesus has for them, that He would die for them to make a way for their salvation.

Jesus could return tomorrow, and we know that the Father delays so that more souls might be saved (2 Peter 3:9). But He could return right now. And until He does, lives are being stolen into destruction left and right every day. And are we present? Loving and worshiping God in the place that He has us, by seeking Him and loving those around us with the same love and attention that He’s given us?

I admonish us, brothers and sisters: Stop daydreaming about the future, and be fully present. Because me, you, and all of our loves ones are not promised tomorrow, and the enemy is becoming more blatant in his killing day by day (1 Peter 5:8).