Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Book Review: “This Moment with God” by Ben Williams

11/10/2021

By Rev. Derrek Belase

In August, our youngest daughter started kindergarten. For the last four years, I have driven her every morning from our home to the daycare where she spent her days. The ten minutes it took to reach the destination were uninterrupted father/daughter time.

Until it was coming to an end, I did not realize how much I was going to miss our little chats. Most of the time, she would ask me to name “all the princesses” (Disney princesses, that is) and I was never able to name them all. Sometimes we would talk about what I was going to be doing that day and other times, we just drove in silence. Regardless of what was filling the time, it was precious time for just the two of us.

In his book This Moment with God, retired United Methodist elder Ben Williams writes to encourage followers of Christ to use each moment with God as precious time which is the very place we are supposed to be in that moment. Instead of imagining where else we could be, we can change our perspective to realize that every moment is brimming with the possibility for transformation right then.

Throughout his fourteen chapters, Ben opens up the scriptures and lays bare his personal experiences to illuminate a path toward being present in the moment rather than always looking for the next place we might want to be.

Ben’s writing is replete with vulnerability, humility, wit and a grasp of God’s grace active in our lives and in the world around us. Plus, he is a music aficionado for those who find spirituality there. Each section of every chapter is set apart in bold typeface which serve to summarize the salient points.

Some 300 years ago, French Jesuit priest Jean Pierre de Caussade wrote about the “sacrament of the present moment.” He spoke of being open to God’s presence at all times and in all places. We often believe that the technological advancements of the modern era keep us from time with God, but the issue is as old as humanity.

The great Saint Augustine, writing some 1,600 years ago, reminds us in his Confessions that our hearts our restless until they find rest in God. We find that rest when we can realize that each moment is a sacred gift from God and that we do not have to look to some future time to experience this reality. We can experience it now, if we just will!

However, all of this can sound easier than it is in practice. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble remaining in the present moment. Williams concludes his book with this advice, “As we learn to use this tool, we grow in the ability to make use of the other equipment we find in the toolbox. … Living in the moment we utilize a heart of mercy and kindness toward others. We employ a deep love for our Creator and a sacrificial love for the people around us. Like Paul, we start to become skillful builders.”

I gifted this book to members of our Local Church Development Ministry Team at the annual conference and many have commented about how meaningful it was for them as it was for me. It is a great curriculum resource for a Sunday school class, small group or book discussion group.

This is not Ben’s first book. In 2017, he wrote Forty Days in the Sierra Wilderness, chronicling his own journey in the High Sierras in California. Both books are accessible to anyone who wants to deepen their spiritual journey and maybe be pushed outside of a comfort zone.

You can reach Ben about his books or speaking engagements at his website www.benwilliamsbooks.com.

 

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