“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”
What does it mean to be present? God, according to John, is present for us even when the wolves of life come to snatch and scatter. Why do we pine for other places when God is where we are here and now? If God is present why must we seek to be other places?
When we seek to be other places we experience the present in a way that is less than it is intended to be experienced. Said differently, if we are thinking about tomorrow while having an important conversation with a friend, then we are not present and therefore we are loving our neighbor in a way that is less than it could be. I don’t know another way to say it, but when we are not present then we miss out on all that God has planned for us. When we are not present, when we do not live the moments that are right there, when we are always living in the past or the future, then we fail to take advantage of all that God has for us each and every day.
I know that there are moments in life that we would rather not be present for, but, even when things are most difficult, even when life hurts the most, God is present. Henri Nouwen writes:
One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are and waste a lot of time and energy to prove what doesn’t need to be proved. We are God’s beloved daughters and sons, not because we have proven ourselves worthy of God’s love, but because God freely chose us. It is very hard to stay in touch with our true identity because those who want our money, our time, and our energy profit more from our insecurity and fears than from our inner freedom.
If we find our identity in God then we have the possibility of living in the present, but if we find our identity in the world then we will live in the past and future and miss the freedom that comes in God’s present. May we seek to be sheep all the days of our lives and dwell in the presence of the Lord always.
 Henri J. M. Nouwen. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994) 191-192.