I read a quote recently that said,
“Don’t think how many moments are in your life; just think how much life there is in a moment.” – Anonymous
During the past few weeks I’ve been making a conscious effort to appreciate the moments in each day. Given my tendency to anxiety and fear, it is a skill that has to be learned and practiced. I received some wise and helpful advice a few days ago – if you focus too much on the past, it leads to discouragement and depression; if you focus too much on the future, it leads to anxiety and fear; if you focus on the present and seek to enjoy the moment to its fullest, it leads to experiencing the peace that God desires for you. It involves discovering how to reframe my thoughts so that I gain a better perspective on life issues and events.
So, here are a few illustrations of how I’ve been “embracing the moment”,
- delighting in the beauty of the coloured leaves as they are reflected in a gently flowing river
- deeply breathing in the crisp fall air
- catching a whiff of that “new wood” smell as our deck is being built
- lingering over the brilliant roses still blooming in my garden and inhaling their sweet perfume
- taking pleasure in gazing at a pair of ducks floating lazily by in a stream
- laughing hysterically as I watch my curious kitten try to free his head stuck in an empty Kleenex box
- soaking in the stunning splendor of a tree-lined highway as the filtered sunlight captures the fall colours at their peak
- stepping out for the first time on our yet-to-be-finished deck and feeling excited about how it is taking shape
- basking in the warmth of the late autumn sun
- savoring the aroma of chili cooking in the crock-pot and knowing supper is preparing itself
- listening to the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet as I walk beside a lake
Not all moments are pleasurable ones, however, and they take more effort to appreciate them for what they are and learn from them,
- nagging headaches which remind me to slow down and take the opportunity to rest
- the pounding and sawing going on outside which, while making it harder to concentrate, makes me happy to know my deck is nearer to completion
- updates about a friend’s lengthy rehabilitation from serious illness helps me to be thankful I am able to walk and look after myself
- my prolonged struggle with fatigue causes me to lean even more on God who is my Strength and who helps me do what needs to be done
- sadness over the recent death of my aunt is eased by the assurance I will one day see her again in Heaven
I’m learning to accept that all these moments in my life - good or bad, pleasing or uncomfortable, beautiful or unlovely, noisy or serene – are “gifts” from my loving Lord who has only my best interests at heart.
As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
God always gives good gifts to His children. They are gifts lovingly wrapped by a pure heart and with all-seeing eyes, with hands perfectly shaping all the twisted ribbons and bows that make up my life, with wisdom and understanding that is unknown to my finite mind.
A gift is meant to be received without asking such questions as “How much did it cost?”, “Why me?”, “But, I didn’t deserve this!”, “I really didn’t need this!”, or “Oh, I already got this before.” How hurtful or insulting that might be to the giver! Usually, gifts are given from a heart of love with the purpose of blessing or prospering the recipient. Sometimes it’s just to say, “I’m thinking of you and I’m here for you.”
Why, then, should I accept what I perceive to be God’s “good” gifts with joy and appreciation, but refuse to acknowledge what I see as “unfavorable”? Why do I view the “unwelcome” gifts as something to be avoided and I beg God to take them away - or at least ease the pain?
I’ve always loved the following song lyrics by Carolina Sandell Berg (translated by Andrew L. Skoog). I trust they are a blessing to you as well.
“Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly, it’s part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.[i]
Until next Sunday,