Monday, September 14, 2009

"Pressing In"

It's a churchy phrase.... "pressing in." I have this little piece of me that doesn't like it because it's churchy. If I walked into the restaurant I've been doing two shifts a week at and told them they needed to press in, I would get lots of ideas about what I was saying. Not one of them would be what Charismatic Christians mean when they use it. Probably not one of them would be okay to say out loud in church without someone fainting.

But the idea of it is on me today. To give a more understandable picture, "pressing in" is that idea of people exerting their energy, their thoughts, their time, and their emotions in order to know God more. This may be through biblical study, through prayer, through musical worship, or through quiet meditation. The image is of a cloud of God's presence right next to us, and all we need to do to get in is lean our weight into it.

This is the strange thing about "already, not yet:" For whatever reason, God has made us in such a way that we've got to go through this process of exertion pretty regularly. It seems to be contingent upon our ability to stay focused or attentive. As soon as we find ourselves distracted, we're back in the place of needing to "press in" again.

This morning, I was trying to find some notes from a sermon I heard several years ago. I knew they were in the journal I was writing in at the time... but I didn't know which, so I flipped through 5 or 6 full journals to find it. By the time I found the notes, I didn't even read them, as I was so overwhelmed by this quick glance at my life for the last 5 years. Some of us are made in such a way that we have to really exert our energy to press in. I am one of those people. Either I am inside that cloud and feeling totally alive, or for whatever reason, I am just outside of it...

Theologically, let it be clear that this strange reality of "already not yet" is not a matter of God extending his presence and then retracting it every time our minds wander. It's more a matter of our own jumping in and out of awareness of it. To put it in another way, your heart is always beating while you're alive, but it takes focus and quietness for you to listen to it, tend to it, or even adjust it. God's presence, for believers, is a greater, more fixed reality than the heart beating in your chest (already); but takes greater attention and focus to "tune into" than finding your own pulse (not yet).

So, what are you doing today to "press in?"