So I was on may way to California this past week and had just gotten on my connecting flight in Dallas when it happened. To my delight, I had been assigned an aisle seat for a quick exit when the time came and I was just getting prepared to dig into a great new book when I made the mistake of looking to see who was sitting next to me. My seatmate was an older guy with a big smile on his face and that knowing look that said he wanted to talk and would probably do so for most of the trip. Now I had a decision to make, did I give him that corresponding glance that says, “Hey I know your probably a great guy, but I want to read right now”, or did I engage him in conversation. For those of you reading this blog that don’t know me well, this was actually a tough call as I am both an extravert and I love to talk and get to know other people. I do however, really like to read and I had a new book that I was looking forward to getting started with. (God Wins by Mark Galli)
In the end, I made the choice to engage this man in conversation and I am glad that I did. As it turns out, he was a believer, attends Charles Swindoll’s church and was on his way to a tough set of meetings. Now it did not surprise me to sit next to another evangelical on a flight out of Dallas, the mecca of all things evangelical these days, but it did surprise me to hear the depth of this man’s commitment to a company that had laid him off in an industry that was really struggling. He was still working as a consultant to the company in his last year before retiring and was asking the big question that a lot of people do at his stage in life – what do I do next? We had a great conversation about the plethora of options that he had before him as he contemplated how God might use him in the days ahead.
I have always been a planner and a visionary. Like my Dad, I get the annual planners a year in advance and begin plotting all of the key things that I plan on accomplishing in the year ahead. This “disease” of being future focused has its upside as I enjoy seeing how things might develop and dreaming of a God shaped future for the ministry role that I serve in. On the downside, however, it can lead to a problem that I have seen in myself and many others like me – the challenge of effectively living in the present.
This morning, I went to church and realized that I was really tired. The past few weeks have been filled with important ministry activities as are the weeks to come. I am known as a person of high energy and just didn’t feel like I had enough energy to even worship properly. Our sermon was going to be on prayer and so I prayed that God would do something to wake me out of my lethargy and He did. The worship team led us in a time of singing that not only woke me up, it drew my heart closer to the one who created music in the first place. For several moments, I almost forgot where I was and what I was doing as I listened to those around me and joined in the chorus and made “a joyful noise”. As I sat down to prepare to hear our pastor preach, I realized that I had temporarily experienced the joy of being present and living life the way God designed it to be – worshiping him.
The great news is that all of life can be about worshiping Him if I choose to live in the present and enjoy every moment He has given me no matter what my circumstances are at that particular hour of the day. The frustrating thing for a person like me is that living in the present means that much of real life happens in the interruptions that so disrupt the life of a planner. A date night turns into a family meal at the mall, a quiet night of reading turns into movie night with my boys, and a flight to California turns into a learning opportunity about a real person in the flesh and not just people on the pages of a book.
This week, I think I will simply plan on being interrupted and see what God wants to do with those teachable moments as frustrating as they may be and joy producing as they may become.