Spirit & Life

Present Moment

Psalm 4
Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
    You gave me room when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
    How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
When you are disturbed, do not sin;
    ponder it on your beds, and be silent.            Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
    Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart
    more than when their grain and wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Reflection

Almost everyone can point to a time in life when they were deeply happy. For some, courtship and marriage were those times of joy. For others, high school or college days stand out. Some even point to the birth of children. In hindsight, some events stand out as times to savor.
Then, there are times that are unpleasant. Events can verge on tragic; the burdens of daily life become overwhelming. These are the times we might reminisce in the experiences of our youth, even indulge in melancholy. Then, we might pray for better times ahead.
Why are some times better than others? Why do some yearn for the “good old days” or look forward to the “green pastures” that lie ahead? Isn’t today enough? These were the kind of questions Psalm 4 posed. It was a prayer of supplication that could be divided into three sections: 1) call for God’s answer (4:1) from the criticism of enemies (4:2), a reminder of God’s power and the need for faith in the Lord (4:3-5), and the popular prayer for better times (4:5) with the caveat that the present can give more joy than any imagined future (4:5-8). These three sections created an implied dialogue between the person under attack and the desire to escape to a better time.
There is certainly nothing wrong with fondly remembering the past or planning for the future. But, should we look behind or ahead for some sense of spiritual fulfillment? If we do, we will only play a game of “what was?” or “what could be?” and not “what is.” If nothing else, Psalm 4 plants us in the spiritual present. We might not have everything we want, but God gives us all we need for now and that is more than enough.

Prayer

Dear God, I spend so much time reliving yesterday
or anticipating tomorrow
that I lose sight of the only time that is really mine,
the present moment.
You give today one moment at a time.
That’s all I have,
all I ever will have.
Give the faith which knows that each moment
contains exactly what is best for me.
Give the hope which trusts You enough
to forget past failings and future trials.
Give the love which makes each moment
an anticipation of eternity with You.
We ask this in the name of Jesus
Who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Amen.

© Emma Stephenson 14/04/2021
this reflection & prayer may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.

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