By Bob Fryling

The Sacrament of the Present

The members of InterVarsity’s cabinet are reading and discussing The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. In it Friedman recounts an African parable of the gazelle and the lion. The gazelle wakes up each morning with the realization that it has to keep running in order to keep from being eaten. The lion wakes up each morning with the realization that it has to keep running in order to keep from starving.

It’s an appropriate parable for our time. It doesn’t make any difference who we are, we feel we have to keep running in order to keep up with our culture, our technology and our relationships. The expansion of all of that stimulation is exhausting. But it’s also addicting.

The Apostle Paul writes about running the race. But the primary metaphor of our relationship with God is not of running but of resting.

I think the challenge for us in InterVarsity is how do we run and rest at the same time? Or do it in a rhythm that is appropriate, that does not exhaust ourselves and others, and in a way that helps us experience God’s presence.

The Sacrament of the Present is being attentive to what God is saying to us, whatever we’re doing, wherever we are.

Whatever we’re doing, God has called us to communicate His will through our gifts. He calls us no matter what our job is, on campus or in our cube. There’s no hierarchy of spirituality.

InterVarsity Press has just published a new book called i>Water From a Deep Well by Gerald Sittser. Sittser traces the history of spirituality from the very beginning of the church up to the present time. In addition to chapters on martyrdom, the monastic movement, missions, evangelism, all of the things the church has done through the centuries, he has a chapter on ordinariness. It’s a wonderful chapter on how God speaks to us in ordinary times.

How do we experience God, to receive him in the present moment? Holding my grand daughter this past weekend I observed the innocence of a child, living in the present, experiencing the immediate and responding with joy. There was a sense of, “I’m being cared for because I recognize who’s with me.”

May there be that greater sense that God is with us, every day. May we all be more aware that God is with us, and be willing to declare to those around us, “Immanuel, God is with us.”


This is condensed version of a talk given by Bob Fryling, InterVarsity vice president and publisher of InterVarsity Press, at the National Service Center on November 28, 2007. The entire chapel talk is this week’s InterVarsity podcast. To subscribe to the podcast, listen to the talk, or download it for later listening, go to the audio resources page.