It’s a new year. If you haven’t already set some new goals and decided on new spiritual practices you want to try, you’re probably feeling pressure to do that. After all, it seems like everybody else is doing it!
When we think about spiritual growth, most of us seem to think in one of two directions. And honestly, neither one of them is all that great.
What are they?
First, there’s the “Go big or Go home” school of spiritual growth.
Maybe, we commit to reading the whole Bible in 90 days, or we take on a new volunteer ministry position or decide that this is the year we’re going to definitely-no-exceptions-cold-turkey stop that one bad habit.
Significant goals. Goals that feel like we’d really make some headway if we stuck with them.
Second, there’s the other end of the spectrum. Maybe we tried too many “Go big or go home” spiritual goals in the past. Maybe we’re just tired of failing. So we say to ourselves, “I’m just going to trust God’s grace this year.” Let me translate that: “No goals with a chance of failure for me.”
The first seems grand but often leads to frustration. The second sounds like giving up. Some of us swing back and forth between these two ways of approaching spiritual growth. Have you been there?
Smaller starts end better.
Would you like to get off that frustrating teeter-totter? What about something simple, something seemingly small? Try this on for size. This year make it your practice, whenever you can remember, to simply look for Jesus in the one present moment you are in.
Jesus told us, in John 14:20, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.” Do you get what that means? Jesus is with us, intimately connected with our experience of our lives. That’s not talking about goose-bump moments and mountain-top experiences. That’s talking about real daily life–whether we feel it or not.
This one present moment. Right now. Jesus is with you.
So, what would happen if we committed to reframing our present moment with that in mind?
In this moment of frustration with my kid, where is Jesus? Is Jesus in my kid, stretching me and growing my patience? Is Jesus in the tension, inviting me to practice grace and unconditional love? Is Jesus teaching me something about obedience in my own life?
In this moment at the grocery store, surrounded by stressed-out people in a rush, where is Jesus? Is Jesus showing me something about the culture shaping us? Is Jesus inviting me to walk through life more slowly, able to notice those around me? Is Jesus present in a smile or kind word I can say to the overworked staff?
In this moment, as I finish my tea and head out into my day, where is Jesus? Is Jesus reminding me that I don’t do this day alone? Is Jesus asking me to include him in each to-do on my list? Is Jesus showing me something about myself in what I feel about my day?
In this moment, when a need comes up, when someone surfaces in my life needing care, or support, or encouragement, where is Jesus? Is Jesus in the needy person, inviting me to engage in service as an act of worship? Is Jesus in the the tension I feel, wanting to serve, but not wanting to be worn out by the never-ending parade of need? Is Jesus teaching me something about boundaries? Is Jesus inviting me to use something I’ve been given to bless someone else?
Where is Jesus in this one present moment?
I don’t know if we’ll ever really do big things for God. We certainly can set big goals. Sometimes those goals help us. Other times, they weigh us down. But regardless of our goals and projects, if we get better at seeing Jesus in the one present moment we are in, then, whatever happens, we will be more aware of Jesus’ guidance, and find ourselves experiencing spiritual growth.
The best part of this practice is that it is portable and immediate. You don’t have to be in a certain place. You don’t any specific supplies. You don’t even need a particularly spiritual mindset. Every moment of the day is available to be experienced in a different and new way.
Even this moment, right now.
Right now, in this one present moment, where do you see Jesus?