Just a few months ago, I was visiting a friend of mine, Todd, while he gave a sermon based on the importance of mental health and anxiety. He stated that God’s peace is found in God’s presence and the present. When we look back to the past, guilt and shame are quick to greet us. When we look to control what tomorrow brings, we meet their cousin, anxiety. Living with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life, I have great compassion for others who suffer the same battle with the mind. Afterward, I shared with Todd why I believe God’s peace can be found only in the present.
I will do my best to explain this the best I can on paper. For those who are more visual learners, the illustration at the conclusion may help. Jesus states, “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20, NIV). Most Christians believe that God is omnipresent, meaning that God is capable of being everywhere at the same time. It means his divine presence encompasses the whole of the universe. There is no location the Lord does not inhabit. So since God is omnipresent, then yes, He is with us always (Matt 28:20, NIV). Therefore, the problem with our alignment with Jesus is this one problem, we are not omnipresent, and when reverting our minds to the past or looking anxiously into the future, we are no longer aligned with Jesus. If you are confused, do not worry; maybe these rhetorical questions will help clarify the idea.
Can Jesus be present in the past? Yes.
Can we be present in the past? No.
Can Jesus be present in the future? Yes.
Can we be present in the future? No.
Can Jesus be present in the present? Yes.
Can we be present in the present? Yes.
In conclusion, hopefully, you can understand that the present, the here and now, or this exact moment, whatever you wish to call it, is the only place we can be present with Jesus. The goal of this exercise is to reveal what is stealing you away from the path of peace with Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us all, “I am with you always” (28:20 NIV). But can we say the same to Jesus?
Spend some time in prayer and stillness with the Lord. Refer to the Prayer of Presence on the inside of the front cover of the journal if need be.
Once at peace, go back through your day/ or week, and take inventory of your thoughts.
Record your thoughts in the moments that you were either stuck in the past or worried about the future.
If it was a moment that you were dwelling on the past, put it on the left side of the cross.
If it was a moment that you were anxious or worried about the future, put it on the right side of the cross.