When you read the title of this Post, what did you think I’d say?
Expect something “mushy”? Something “pious”? Something worthwhile, but not particularly “fun”? Welcome to the human race — even the “believer” part of it.
Actually, you and I have no choice whatsoever. WE HAVE TO SPEND TODAY WITH GOD. We don’t have to pay any attention to it — to God’s presence with us absolutely every second of the day, whether we are awake or asleep. We never have to feel that God is with us; we don’t have to talk to God — or listen to God, for that matter. The simple and incontestable fact is that you and I, and every person, and every part or aspect of creation always exists in God. Everything and everyone that exists “spends today with God”.
One might think that everyone would be delighted to know that God was so totally present to each of us, always caring, even calling us by name, from the first to the last moments of our life on earth — and then for all eternity. But we let at least two possible realities interfere with what should be our security and our delight. The first one comes from our own idea of God: impersonal? distant? demanding? perfectionist? not to be trusted? (what I have experienced from the worst and most judgmental and most nit-picking of parents, teachers, authority figures). The second interference comes from: my own lack of self-worth (God wouldn’t bother with a person like me); look at my (fill in the blank) — sinfulness, pride, jealousy, impatience, sexual desires, fantasies, selfishness, etc. Most of the time, no one could be harder on me than myself. How could God enjoy spending time with me?
No one has put it better than the “Christian mystic”, perhaps a monk, whose insights were shared in the latter half of the fourteenth century in The Cloud of Unknowing. We must remember that a “mystic” is not a dreamer or magician, but one who through God’s gifts is so deeply in touch with reality that they discern the God who is at its center — and stay aware of God’s presence. Here is the proper response to “the second interference” above. [Since this could be life-changing, can we spend a few minutes now, reading it over and over, open to the Spirit’s illumination?]
It is not what you are now nor what you might have been
that God sees with his all merciful eyes
but what you desire to be
Because of God’s unconditional love for each one of us, “what you desire to be” is all God really cares about. Do we feel the weight lifting yet? Whenever God looks at us, walks with us, thinks of us (yes, which is EVERY MOMENT) — God sees only what we desire to be.
Think of human friendship. (Perhaps especially if that friendship grows into marriage.) Everyone has a past — with all its immaturity, need for growth, sins — “nor what you might have been”. None of us would imagine that now we are perfect — even if someone loves us now they still experience our current imperfections, need for growth, even “sins”. Therefore “It is not what you are now…” that is the primary criterion which enhances and justifies even true human friendship.
If we love someone — even a friend — it is because in our dealings with them we have seen “what you desire to be”. That is what continues to attract us, and in which we find it possible to “overlook” where the person doesn’t measure up to the “perfection” we might wish for them. Even now, they are enough for us. (And, apparently, their believing what I “desire to be”, I am enough for them.) We are genuinely friends.
Even while God wants for us and is praised by all our human friendships and unalloyed joys with one another, God is humbly willing to walk with us every step of life as the ultimate “fall-back” best friend. Why? Because God more surely than anyone else “knows what we desire to be” . We want to love and be loved, admirable, caring, seen as good and faithful and honest because we truly desire to be — even “holy” (if we know what its real “down to earth” meaning is!). God recognizes this as who I really and deeply am. This and so much more should make it easy, comfortable, and GREAT — to spend today with God.