Because I’m under conviction, I’m going to do what I usually do…spread some of the guilt around.
Did you ever think that life is something that happens while you're heading somewhere else?
In other words, because we are always looking to “get through” something to the next thing, we miss what God has planned for the present thing. I’ve even come to the realization that the “main thing” and the importance of doing the “main thing” isn’t the main thing at all.
Stay with me. I’m really going somewhere with this.
One of the greatest tragedies to affect me was the death of one of my best friends, Rusty Anderson. I miss him more than I can say. He affirmed grace to me and always told me not to “shilly-shally.” He encouraged me when I thought that I was ugly and my mother dressed me funny. He discouraged me when I started thinking of myself more highly than I ought to have thought. He was sometimes profane, didn’t obey many of the rules, and loved God with all of his heart. He gave me the freedom to be real and he modeled grace for me.
One of the best things about Rusty, though, was the way he lived life—not for what was going to happen tomorrow or next week but living life in the here and now. He enjoyed every minute of it by squeezing out of each moment everything that that moment could give.
When Rusty died, he was taking his special gumbo to a food festival in Union Springs where he lived. Union Springs? Gumbo? Wouldn’t it have been better for Rusty to have died in a…well…a Key Life Board meeting or teaching his Sunday school class or counseling some of the many people he had touched for Christ? There is something sort of pedestrian about gumbo and Union Springs.
Then I remembered a conversation Rusty told me he had had with God once early in the morning. Rusty said to God, “Lord, I’m your servant and today I give myself to you. I will go where you want me to go, say what you want me to say and do what you want me to do.”
What do you want to do? Rusty said the Lord asked.
“That’s not important. What’s important,” Rusty said, being very religious, “is what you want me to do.”
What do you want to do? The Lord persisted.
“Well,” Rusty said, thinking about his farm, “I would really like to build a barn out back.”
Then, God said with a smile, do it with joy.
Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). In that passage, Jesus was talking about worry but the principle he gave is one of great importance in life: live in the moment and let the next moment be for the next moment. Or to put it in Latin so you will know how sophisticated I am…Carpe Diem! (“Seize the day!”)
My life’s verse is Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
I sometimes forget.
I often think the “main thing” is the next thing. It hardly ever is. The main thing is the hand God has dealt you for this moment—to use an old poker player’s imagery—to play it, to enjoy the game and sometimes to collect your winnings. Now that I think back on my poker playing days, it wasn’t even what I won (and sometimes I won a lot) or what I lost (and sometimes I lost my shirt), it was the game, the friends with whom I played, and the joy of being together while we played the game.
And no, I hardly ever play poker anymore. (I do need this job.) But somewhere since my poker playing days, I turned “religious.” I thought that God needed my help. I started looking over his shoulder, as it were, to see what the next hand would be. I was so focused on the next hand that he was going to deal, and so focused on doing it right and serving him properly, that I missed the joy of playing the game. In other words, I forgot to squeeze the moment for the life, the joy and the reality that it offered me.
How much we miss in preparing for, thinking about, planning around and faithfully doing the next thing. God, in his grace and freedom, wants us to do the thing that is presently before us…like spending time with and enjoying a good movie with our family, drinking a milkshake with friends, playing golf or maybe even playing poker (or, if that offends, tiddlywinks).
I know that doesn’t sound very “Christian” or “religious.” Doesn’t matter. Sometimes that is the hand God deals. Sometimes, though, his hand has to do with laughing at a joke told by your son or daughter, having dinner with friends or watching television. Sometimes the hand has to do with your obedience; but at other times, it may just be that he wants you to relax and enjoy the moment.
Now maybe I’ll go build a barn or make some gumbo.
You can too.
You Think About That
Read Matthew 6:34 & James 4:13-14
How are you at living in the moment? What about at trusting “the hand” God has “dealt” you? Remember that God is your loving Father. You really can relax in his grace…and have the freedom to enjoy life. So go out and get a milkshake!