hen Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16)
One time, when I was a kid, our family went to this big event at a local Christian bookstore. They had all sorts of games and activities for kids, including a bounce house, also known as a “space walk.” I remember jumping in that thing, and it was a great.
After a while, an announcement was made over a loudspeaker, listing all the different activities they had going that day. At one point, the announcer said, “We have a space walk!” I thought, “Wow, a space walk! That sounds fun!” So I stopped jumping, got out, and went to look for the space walk. I soon discovered that I had already been in the space walk, and just didn’t know it. And to make matters worse, they had a rule that once you got out, you couldn’t get back in.
I’ve thought about that day many times throughout the years since then, and it has become sort of a life metaphor for me.
As human beings, we crave significance, meaning, purpose, and happiness. We often hear rumors of these things, discovered and experienced by other people, and sometimes we end up living in a perpetual state of restlessness, with our real lives in constant competition with our dreams and our aspirations. All that we could be. All that we could do. All that we should be. All that we should do.
Sometimes our restlessness simply arises out of boredom. Sometimes it is coupled with envy of others who seem to be living the dream. Sometimes it is accompanied by guilt and shame for living such ordinary lives. And it can often lead us to despair.
The action is always somewhere else.
Significance is always somewhere else.
Joy is always somewhere else.
Life is always somewhere else.
God is always somewhere else.
Of course, sometimes it’s good to be restless. It is good to have dreams and aspirations – both for ourselves and for the world. It’s good to embrace opportunities for learning and growing. It’s good to courageously take risks. It’s good to imagine new possibilities. It’s good to dream up new ways of living into compassion, justice, and love. It’s good to set out on a new adventure, even if you don’t know where you’ll end up!
But here’s the problem: sometimes we can miss the goodness of our RIGHT-NOW lives by constantly thinking about being somewhere else, or doing something else. And so when we hear an announcement (book, commercial, sermon, thought, etc.) that there is a space walk somewhere else (purpose, meaning, significance, happiness, beauty, etc.), we set out on a quest to find it.
But what if the very thing we’re looking for has been HERE all along? What if we are already where we want to be? What if God is in THIS PLACE, and we just didn’t know it? What if our lives are already jam-packed with joy, meaning, purpose, significance, beauty, and goodness?
I don’t know where you are in the journey of your life. It may be your time to set out on a new adventure. But no matter where you are or where you are going, don’t spend so much time looking ahead that you miss what is all around you. Don’t spend so much time thinking about the life you want that you miss the life you already have. Show up. Be present.
In the words of Frederick Buechner: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
In other words, we’re already in the space walk.