Living In His Now Presence
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Live in the present”, “Stay in your now”. That good advice is becoming more of a challenge these days when so many new and troubling events keep happening daily. With them come not only worrisome thoughts about tomorrow (because what happens today effects tomorrow), but sadness over the loss of yesterday’s normal. These tend to nip at the edges of our peace of mind.
It comes as no surprise to God. He warned us this would happen. He’s also prepared for us a road map with designated stops and rest areas for refueling and refreshing to keep us in the “now”. Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.[i]
Jacob’s story is one such designated stop.[ii] Imagine the many thoughts churning in his head as he trekked through the Negev Desert from Beersheba to Haran? He’d tricked his older brother Esau into selling him his birthright. In cahoots with his mother, he then deceived his dying father into giving him what should have been Esau’s blessing. This double-whammied blow, Esau would never let go of. He undoubtedly would’ve gone through with his plans to retaliate had mom not gotten wind of them and sent Jacob away to Uncle Laban’s in Haran.
That first night into Jacob’s journey must’ve been a doozy. For starters, there was no thick grass to bed down on. No tent to shelter him. The Negev was arid desert with rocks and scattered patches of vegetation. Jacob’s bed consisted of rock-hard ground with a stone for a pillow and lizards for bed buddies.
Staying in his “now” probably wasn’t doing much in the way of encouraging him.
As he lay there—his body smarting from the miles travelled, his skin dry and caked with dust—did he pine for his former life? the familiarity of home? his nice soft bed? the affections of a doting mother? Did he wonder what a quiet-natured homebody like himself was doing in the wild?
Not to mention the guilt and shame of what he’d done. It surely ate at him. He and his brother had been at variance with each other since the womb, had dickered over the slightest things. Then he had to go and do this. Esau hated him for sure now. Whatever possessed him to covet Esau’s birthright and blessing in the first place? Now that he had them, was it worth all the trouble? Sure, his would be the best of the household estate, the priority, the privileges. The honor. But with those came certain expectations and obligations. One being, to cross this miserable desert to find a suitable wife from among their kinfolk.
And what good did all this entitlement do for him? His future was trashed. Returning home meant certain death. Slowing his pace might give Esau time to catch up with him. Even if he abandoned his mission, Esau would still probably come after him. As for his “now”? It was nothing more than a brown, dusty, rocky wasteland with wolves and scorpions and jackals. So much for privileges and honor.
Jacob’s head was caught between a rock and a hard place. Guilt, shame, remorse, regret, heartache, loneliness, and fear were very-present realities as he finally fell into what I believe would be a fitful sleep.
And he dreamed . . . that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Above that ladder stood the Lord Himself, reassuring Jacob of his righteous lineage and of God’s faithfulness to fulfill His covenant promises through Jacob. “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go,” God said. “I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.”[iii]
Jacob awoke with a sense of holy awe and reverence. “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not!” he cried. “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gateway to heaven!”[iv]
It comforts me to know that I’m not alone in better realizing—at all times—God’s “now” presence.
So . . .
No matter the suffering or pining for what’s been lost.
No matter the hardness of the way or difficulties of the present situation.
No matter what personal faults harass or shame that haunts.
No matter the unknown dangers in the road ahead or the threats that pursue us.
Surely the Lord is in this place. The I AM is here right now. This very minute, His faithfulness is keeping us on our long, and at times, arduous journey. No matter what. We can call on Him, lean on Him, hide in Him, rest in Him, receive strength in Him, trust in Him to finish the good work He began in us.[v]And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.[vi]
Let’s stay in our “now”.