Present Perfect – Chasing the Sun

This is the real chapter 3. Somehow I messed that up last post. Sorry about that!

Boyd starts this chapter with the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s song, “Time”. The gist of it is the problem common to man, time flying by and what have we done when time is gone? It’s a very sobering song.

In the culture we live in, worshipping youth, and beauty, the laws of nature still have the final say, age and gravity! Boyd points out that we are in a “perpetual, relentless process of decay.” I know that sounds depressing, but it doesn’t have to be!

The world we live in is not the world for which we were created. It is not the world we are destined for either. But we live in the ‘meantime’ and how do we deal with the clash of this stay young forever culture with the feeling that we’re running out of time? Botox and exercise and diets don’t help, rather they perpetuate the problem – taking our gaze from God and focusing too much on our situation.

We live with the fear “not just that we’re going to die. The fear is that we’ll never really live.”

What this chapter is about is the truth that “freedom from fear and dread is one decision away, and it can be made in this moment. In fact it can only be made in this moment.” Freedom is in one single decision!

Boyd says it is vital to remind yourself of some truths:                                                                          ~right now is all you have, so savor this moment without thinking forward anxiously or looking back regretting (or longingly)                                                                                           ~right now you are surrounded, encased by God’s perfect, unconditional love                                  ~you cannot be more loved, more valuable, more significant than you are right now        ~it’s not because of anything you’ve done (which takes the pressure off of having to keep it up) but because of the astounding, lavish love of God.                                                    ~”this perfect love never began, never ends, is never threatened, and never wavers.”

“As you breathe your next breath, let it represent your decision to breathe in God’s loving presence and all these truths associated with it.”

Colossians 3:1-3  says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t live in the ‘real world’ (except, ironically, that this world we live in is so NOT REAL in the eternal and spiritual sense, but I digress.)  When we set our hearts (our minds, thoughts, attentions and energy) on things above, our whole perspective of the here and now changes.  Our value and meaning don’t depend on our accomplishments or appearance. “The bottom line is that we were meant to live life as a celebration of a fullness of Life we get from God rather than as a desperate attempt to get fullness of Life on our own.” It’s where our identity is, hidden with Christ in God. So we can let go of clinging to the world, or chasing the sun as Pink Floyd put it, as a source of life, because that’s just an illusion.

To help us practice letting go and stop chasing the sun, Boyd gives a couple exercises to practice. One that I like a lot he has borrowed from Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline. You can do this anywhere at any time.

“Foster teaches that you should begin by holding your palms downward on your lap as ‘a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have over to God.’ Call to mind everything that is weighing on your heart and mind and give it to God. Let your downward facing palms represent letting cares and concerns fall from your grasp into the hands of the sovereign God of love who holds you in existence, moment-by-moment. Notice your breathing and envision every exhaled breath as a further release of weight in your life. . . .When you’ve finished this part of the prayer, Foster encourages you to turn your hands over in your lap so that your palms are facing upward ‘as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.’ Remain in this posture with a receptive attitude as you wait for what the Lord would like to give you. With every breath you take in, receive the fullness of Life that comes from God. Breathe in his forgiveness, direction, peace, healing, or whatever else he has for you.”

I’ve found myself doing this several times this week when I felt overwhelmed and when my thoughts were racing. I took a moment to stop what I was doing and focus on God, reminding myself of His loving Presence and turning my palms down and breathing out then turning my palms up and breathing in thanking God for His love and peace and presence. Whether I felt anything or sensed any direction wasn’t even the point. Sometime I will I’m sure, but the point for me is that I redirect my attention to the One Who deserves it. I sense His peace. I sense His pleasure that I’m refocusing on Him and not what troubles me. As Brother Lawrence wrote: “I am in a calm so great that I fear nothing. What could I fear? I am with Him.”

Another exercise Boyd offers is using your imagination to place yourself in the middle of a vast virtual infinity. Putting yourself in context so to speak. So often we see our lives, our problems our little world as so big, but get above it and look down and gain perspective on just how small you are. Not insignificant, but small and finite in comparison to the galaxies. “The awe-inspiring vastness and smallness of created reality should be viewed as a symbolic pointer to the even more awe-inspiring magnitude and intensity of God’s love . . . . We might say that Calvary is to God’s love what the virtual infinitude of space is to God’s majesty. Though we are microscopic in size next to the vastness of the universe, the Creator loves each of us as if we were the only being he created. For a God of unlimited love, size does not matter.”

This is absolutely astounding! God, Your love is incomprehensible! Thank You for Your great love! Thank You for Your great sacrifice! I love You!!!

“Eternal, ever-present Creator, help us to see your love as the background against which we view all things. Free us to let go of the world that is fading away and to cling only to you. Keep us awake to your presence in this moment and in every moment.”

Amen.

 

One Response to “Present Perfect – Chasing the Sun”

  1. Les Beauchamp Says:

    Thank you for helping me contemplate the vastness of God’s love. Contemplate, I say, for surely it is too vast to be able to take in completely. The palms up and down practice is so simple, doable and powerful!

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