I spent a few really incredible days in gorgeous Suffolk last month. It really did me the world of good...taking a few days out from my beautiful but busy life to just chill...to maybe write...pray...to read a little...and to listen loads. I knew it was a God thing. A divine set up. I totally smiled when a beautiful couple I know invited me to their gorgeous country home close to the sea. I had wanted to get some time out to write for ages and when their invitation came I knew it was God. We had been standing in the Market Place at David Tent's Worship Festival at the end of August...I had enthusiastically nodded saying "yeah defo...that sounds dreamy"...and although I sensed it was God, in all honestly I wasn't sure quite how I would actually take them up on their irresistible offer of a quiet getaway by the sea, with all that was going on in my life. Yet as my friends had walked away, Charlie (Nikki's hubby) had stopped and looked back at me, before saying the following very significant words:
"Bobbi please don't just say yes and then go back to London and forget about your need for time out...about your deep desire to write. You really should take us up on our invitation...and do it quickly...this coming month...while the sun is still shining brightly during the day...and while the opportunity is still there". That so sealed the deal for me. And so off I went to Suffolk. I spent hours on the beach...I read books...I journalled...I dreamt with God...I enjoyed incredible food...leisurely lunches and dinner at the harbour. I inhaled fresh country air and took long drives. I savoured the simple things...enjoyed a slower pace of life. I was inspired afresh...yeah that's what it was...I clearly needed this time to give God the space to inspire me afresh - without the emails, the phone calls, without the social media and technology...and without my own tendency to get distracted.
He did not disappoint me. I was most definitely inspired. Above and beyond...on so many levels. Inspired by the stillness of the countryside - enabling me to hear anew with clarity, God's heart for me. Inspired by the stories I read. Inspired by the fresh peace I felt. Inspired by the every day lives of the beautiful family I stayed with - their pursuit of God...the battles they had fought...the family they had built and the trailblazing creativity that they clearly walked in. I was inspired by all that I observed. Moment by moment inspired by the conversations I had...gleaning so much wisdom from those around me. A conversation in particular that I had with Nikki touched me so deep. It was something that has been said many a time, by many a people, in many a way - yet it struck a chord in me so strong that day. Loud and clear - it became substance to my soul.
As we walked together through the lush, green fields of the Suffolk country side onto the sandy beaches and sky blue sea, I was reminded by my beautiful, wise friend, about the wonderful importance of being "in the moment". Not just seizing the opportunities in life - but like totally one hundred percent ENGAGING WITH THE NOW...you know...not thinking about the other person you would rather talk to at that time...or thinking about what was going to happen later that day...or the tasks you needed to undertake...about who you were going to see tomorrow...or the very important issue or deadline two days or two weeks from now...but to actually live in the NOW...to give yourself completely and totally to whatever it is that you are doing in that very moment...whoever you are doing it for...whoever you are doing it with...however long you are doing it for...and to determine to get the very best out of it...and to pour the very best into it.
We all need this reminder right? Not to say that sometimes in life thinking of the future can't be a great way to get through the now - especially if the experience we may be going through is perhaps painful, monotonous or deeply uninspiring. And this is valid and understandable and praise God for being able to see the bigger picture, but what I'm talking about is being in the PRESENT and fully engaging in that very moment if you have an option to do that, whether you're talking to the prime minister or to the postman...whether your filling in your tax return or designing a new collection of clothing...whether you're serving a customer in a shop or tipping a waiter for a meal...basically just not dismissing a moment in favour of something or someone that we deem far more significant or worthy of our time, attention or effort...not overlooking all that you could give or receive in that moment whoever we may be with or whatever we may be doing.
Of course I am aware that this is far easier said than done because let's face it if you are in a rush...or you have an important deadline, or an exciting event coming up...or an imminent encounter with someone obviously all these various factors will be vying for your attention - and if you have pressing issues or challenging circumstances then again this is where your thoughts will be drawn to. Absolutely understandable. Yet as exciting or as pressing or worrying as that thing may be that has your attention - whether it's a positive or negative thing you are fixating upon it's a deep shame if it steals you from NOW. If thoughts of who you are going to see later prevent you from fully interacting with or fully blessing or fully focusing on who you are with right now in this very moment, then relationally you are losing out on the fullness of your time with the person you are with. If thoughts of something that is yet to happen in the future steals your engagement with the present moment then that very part of your journey or someone else's journey is being stolen or sacrificed in favour of something that is yet to happen.
If we regularly succumb to this as a lifestyle, always thinking ahead, always thinking of who we are seeing next or what we are needing to do later then we have literally missed out on countless moments of destiny, of depth, of treasure, of significance because we were looking ahead - rather than seizing the now. We risk an existence of misspent time...unfulfilled moments...unlearnt lessons...unveiled secrets...un-maximised potentials...unformed relationships...unspoken conversations...unreleased blessings...and quite importantly we miss out on the rest and peace of God that is available for that moment in time.
Now I am certainly not talking about magnifying the temporal, and being led purely by that which you can see in the natural. Nor am I negating the need to plan and prepare for that which is imminent and which of course requires our attention...but I am encouraging us to specifically take time out to dream with God as a lifestyle rather than as an escape tool...and I'm also suggesting that we diligently and intentionally also take time to plan and prepare for all that we need to do with our day...and to earnestly pray about the things on our mind...and then by faith releasing everything into God's hands knowing He will take care of every single moment of our lives. I believe doing theses things could then help us be more present in our moment. So I've definitely been reminded afresh to make the most of every second - whether I'm doing something super exciting, ridiculously mundane, painfully stretching, wildly adventurous, deeply reflective or wonderfully creative.
I actually think this is especially important for those that are single and may be itching to settle down. It's great to want to be married but it would be a great tragedy to bypass the glory and freedom of your NOW days as a free and single individual...because you're spending all your time dreaming about being married. You see, on a level - when you get married, as glorious and beautiful as married life is let's face it there's untold stuff you're going to have to say goodbye to...like those deliciously spontaneous moments of intimacy with God that could happen at all hours...or the precious 'me' time that as a single is so freely available...or the silences where you don't have to explain anything to another...or do anything with someone else if you would rather be alone...the freedom to just up and go without having to consult another person or consider another's diary....the joyful freedom to sow into different pursuits and desires that centre around your heart as an individual.
When you're married, you're part of a team...it's beautifully irrevocable...and being married you'll have wonderful new places of intimacy...new adventures...new conversations and new silences...yet it will be a completely different set up to what you have now...not necessarily better or worse...just different...it will surely be deeply sacrificial...it will have to be selfless and totally giving of yourself...it will be beautifully stretching...it will be a lifelong challenge of unconditionally loving another up close and personal...something that when you are not married you just do not have to go through twenty four seven. So let's not be quick to discard these amazing irreplaceable moments of freedom we are in possession of NOW as singles, in favour of dreaming and scheming about what is yet to come...for there is so much to savour NOW....so much available to go after that you simply may not be able pursue when you are married or at least not with the same liberty. And as incredible and magnificent as married life will surely be, for many of us, there is much yet to discover...to walk in...to experience before we begin to walk with another. Therefore being in the present in your singleness is crucial.
Yet for all of us, whatever our situation, whatever our lives may be like...seizing every single moment of every single day I believe is paramount if we truly want to live an existance of fulfilment. I am convinced that the last thing that any of us want, is to live out our earthly lives striving to live from one destination to another - only to one day discover, that the true treasure was in fact hidden in the seemingly insignificant moments inbetween. And so since my return from Suffolk I have found myself taking a little more 'time' with each of my moments, no matter who I am with...or what I am doing...endeavouring to truly BE in the moment...to glean...to give...to listen...to seek all that is available in my now...assured that as long as I steward my NOW as best as I know how to, then the rest will surely take care of its self. I certainly know I have a long way to go...and I am sure there are so many moments I've still managed to miss...but for NOW I think it's a good start.