Nowhere to Be but “Here”

By: Ian Wooldridge 
Jesus and I often meet at a special place everyday.

Now, this place is in my imagination. The scene looks like this:

It’s a cool, serene morning.

Light breeze. You know, that gentle, comfortable springtime kind of breeze.

The dawn has already begun its ascent over the eastern horizon, and the day’s first gleams of light greet us from afar, signaling all kinds of excitement and anticipation for the new beginnings and opportunities that a new day brings.

(Isn’t cool how each new day is a gift in this way?)

Anyways, back to my imagination.

Jesus and I are walking a path that is winding through this spacious, green pasture — almost like a park. Along this trail are some tall, strong trees, and every so often, clusters of delicate and dazzling wildflowers pop out their heads in stunning display, yet still retain their subtle and graceful allure.

It’s quiet — except for birdsong.

I’m walking next to Jesus, and He’s moving so slow.

One, step, at, a, time.

And there’s just so much delight in His face. The way He looks at me makes me feel like I’m the only person in the world. There’s always this deep, affirming, proud, and loving smile that He looks at me with. I know I’m delighted in.

His arm is around me.

Again, we’re moving so slow. Painstakingly slow.

It’s like, C’mon, Jesus.

But then I remember that it’s this same Jesus who watches and listens to the birds; this same Jesus who stops to notice the flowers along the way1

this same Jesus who’s just present.

Sure enough, right on cue:

“Hear the birds! Ah, isn’t it all a miracle? And Ian, these flowers! Look how pleasant, unadorned, and yet stunning they are. Isn’t it all just so good?!”

We’re stopped at this point, and Jesus — with His arm still around me — is looking up at the birds as they coast here and there and sit on branches and sing, and also, at the same time, He’s pointing at the flowers along the ground next to the trail.

“Ian,” He continues, now looking at the bird that landed on the branch just above our heads, “these birds, they don’t worry or concern themselves with how they’re gonna make it, or how they’re gonna get through the day, or if they’re gonna have enough, or what the future may bring. Yet, your heavenly Father takes care of them everyday.”

Then, He shifts His gaze down, and continuing to smile, says,

“and these flowers — look how beautiful they are! They don’t dress themselves up or labor or spin to achieve such radiance. Yet, they’re here one day and then gone the next.”

Slowly, He then turns and looks into my face.

Love, joy, and peace are in His eyes.

I’m undone.

Then, He unconcernedly and as calming as a gentle stream says,

“These birds, and these flowers. The Father takes care of them all — and how much more valuable are you, my child?”

Then, He puts His arm back around me, and we continue — slowly — along the path again, enjoying friendship and delighting in one another.

Cut scene.

This is usually where my little imagination prayer exercise ends.

But the other day, as Jesus and I were continuing along the path in my imagination, He said a few more extra words to me:

“You have nowhere to be but here.”


Here with Him — present to Him and present to the moment.

So much power and potential and life is wrapped up in this otherwise normal word:


I remember opening my eyes after praying, and writing that phrase down in my journal, particularly emphasizing that last word:


After I wrote it down, two distinct dynamics of that word came to my attention, and sunk themselves deep into my heart:

One, that abiding with Jesus in moment-by-moment, interactive friendship is the only place I need to be everyday; and two, from that place, that being present to the moment — with Him — is where the joy is, no matter the circumstance.

The Practice: Being Present to God and to the Moment

Whenever I read the Gospels, I’m always drawn to look for Jesus’ lifestyle cues.

As in:

What are His patterns?
What are things that He usually does, and how does He do them?
How does He seem to go about His days?
Are there any rhythms that He seems to be displaying?
How does He interact with people? With the Father? With everyday life?

Since Jesus is my teacher, and I His student (or disciple), I want to imitate and mirror His way of doing things. Simply put, I want to take on His lifestyle as my own.

Now, what strikes me most when I’m on the lookout for “Jesus lifestyle” cues as I read the Gospels is how radically present Jesus was.

First and foremost, He was present to the Father. He lived in a state of utter dependency on Him, and walked in such a way that kept Him in constant communion, and in constant conversation with His Father. His whole life was postured this way.

We’re invited into the same posture.

In John 15, Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 2

This word “remain” that Jesus uses is one that implies a constant staying with or a constant connection to. Nothing less is Jesus’ invitation to us, daily.

And of course, we have this passage in Luke 10, where Jesus and His disciples stopped in for the night at Martha’s house. She kindly opened up her home to them, so of course, she was busy to and fro with cleaning, prepping, and getting things ready — “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,” as the passage tells us. All the while, Martha’s sister Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

Naturally, Martha gets frustrated and says to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!

Then Jesus says in response, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” 3

Few things are needed — “indeed only one.”

Or, as Jesus says in Matthew 6, right after telling His disciples to consider the birds and the flowers, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 4

One thing is needed: walking with God, remaining with Him, moment-by-moment. Everything else will flow from this place. Or, as Frank Laubach puts it,

I seem to have to make sure of only one thing now, and every other thing “takes
care of itself,” or I prefer to say what is more true, God takes care of all the rest.
My part is to live in continuous inner conversation with God and in
perfect responsiveness to His will. 5

When we recognize and respond to and enjoy the very presence of God in every square inch of life, in every moment of our day, joy is given form.

And this is a joy that isn’t tied to circumstances: we remember that the One who knows our needs is right here with us, and He’ll take care of us.

I love how John Eldredge puts it:

“You don’t have to nail down the course of your life. You get to do something far more exciting: you get to walk with God. 6

So, Jesus was present to His Father.
He was also present to the moment.

It’s really hard to imagine a rushed, frantic, hurried, multi-tasking, frazzled Jesus.

Try it for a moment!

He seemed to live life in the slow lane, with this honed in ability to just notice:

Notice the birds
and the flowers
and people
and what was going on around Him
and what the Father was doing or saying in any given moment.

It’s hard to notice these things with your eyes down.

Because Jesus walked with such a full and radical trust in the Father, He was freed up to be present to the moment, and whatever it would bring. The more we learn to trust that God will take care of us, we’re freed up more to the joy of each moment, too.

And being present doesn’t just open us up to more joy, but it opens us up to more of life and people and what’s going on around us, too — to the opportunity that each moment can bring.

I love what Brennan Manning says:

To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is… an act of radical trust — trust that God can be encountered at no other time and in no other place than in the present moment. Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life. 7

I can get behind that.

When we’re present to the God who is always with us by seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness and His presence — moment-by-moment — we can trust, as Jesus says, that God “will give you everything you need.”

And when we’re present to the moment — to the now— we’re able to actually notice all that is around us:

flowers —

And joy is never far behind what the now can bring.

Like Jesus, let’s be present to the God who is always with us, and let’s be present to the people — not just with our ears, but our eyes and attention spans as well — who are made in His image, who are in front of us everyday.

In this season of uncertainty, yes, there’s valid reason for stress, or worry; there’s justifiable reasoning for these things. I’m not denying that.

But what if we took Jesus’ words about us having everything we need if we just seek Him first really seriously?

Like they were actually a statement about reality?

Let’s just sit with them again, one more time here as we close:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

Let’s go for this, friends: walking with God — present to Him, and present to the moment— trusting Him every step of the way, one day at a time, knowing the fullness of His joy. 8

We have nowhere to be but here.



  1. See Matthew 6:25-34. I’d encourage you to block out a good, little window of time to not just read this great passage, but to sit with it as well.
  2. John 15:4-5, NIV.
  3. See Luke 10:38-42, NIV.
  4. Matthew 6:33, NLT.
  5. Excerpt from Letters by a Modern Mystic (Martino Publishing, 2012). Originally published in 1937.
  6., emphasis mine.
  7. This is from his book Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God (New York: HarperCollins, 2000). Emphasis mine.
  8. See John 15:11.

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