‘Lessons will be learnt for the future’ is a phrase that leading figures in business, education, politics or the law often use when a crisis emerges. Right now, thousands of people around the world are preparing themselves for the 2012 Olympics to be held just a few miles from where this piece is being written.
You, if you are serious about your work, will be improving your knowledge of how it should be done; many readers will be on courses to acquire knowledge and skills.
A common feature of those described above could be summed up in the word ‘training’. In a sense, we are all in training all the time (unless you feel you have arrived, in which case please don’t feel the need to read on).
Training, learning and development, all have a future focus; they contain in them a note of preparation. Right now, every Olympic athlete is preparing daily, for a few days next summer; training, therefore, has the potential to be a thief of the present. Your gaze can be so fixed on a moment not yet arrived, that you miss the moments arriving every minute.
Jesus of Nazareth faced this challenge head on, because he was training his learners (disciples) for his physical absence and a global enterprise. He was preparing them for his death and their own strategic futures. So how did he prevent that from robbing them of the present? I will suggest a few pointers:
Firstly, he showed them the meaning of ‘I AM’. Famously, in John’s and (quite likely since she was with him after Jesus gave them to each other) Mary’s gospel, Jesus describes himself over and over as ‘I AM’ (the way; the light; the bread; the resurrection; the good shepherd). ‘I AM’, indicates who you are now – not who you were, nor who you will be, but who you are. It focuses your mind on
what actions can proceed now out of who you are. So try drawing up a list of ’I am’s’ about yourself and see what that does to focus your actions in the present.
Secondly, he constantly asked them questions: “What did you go to the wilderness to see?” “What do you think?” “Why do you worry?” These questions invited listeners to assess their current state of mind and challenged them to act in the now as they answered them.
Thirdly, he partnered with them. “You give them something to eat”; “You fill the water jars”; “Go into the towns and villages”. – these were present actions, which he shared with them. “Pray with me”, “Walk with me”, “Be my friend” were all invitations to the now.
The last of my suggestions: he breathed an inner ‘trainer’ into their souls. Locked behind closed doors, in fear of the future, the disciples experienced a sudden appearance of Jesus and then he breathed the Spirit into their lives. The third person of the ‘I AM’ lived inside them as in you, giving you words for now, hope for now, power for now.
When their future arrived, they were ready because they learnt that preparing for the future is not about living in it. Preparing for the future is about a deep involvement in the present. The future is already a friend if you are at home in the present.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
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