The tragedy of life
is not that it ends so soon,
but that we wait so long to begin it.
-W. M. Lewis
I'm one of those people who has a hard time being in the moment. I struggle with seeing what's in front of me. I fail to be where I am. I miss summer wishing for fall. I blow a lovely night worrying about the next morning. I rush through lunch thinking about what's for supper. I spend this vacation dreaming about the next one. I mail November's electric payment already dreading December's.
I'm a moment killer. I chase off the life I have now... today... by worrying about or longing for the one that's to be. I'm working on it, but I do: I live in moments that don't yet belong to me.
Sure, thinking ahead is good at times. It's important to plan for tomorrow. To take a vitamin and eat broccoli. To change the oil in your car. To tuck money away for college and retirement. It's important to plan for tomorrow, but not at the expense of completely missing today.
How is this a devotional? Well, missing today for tomorrow happens in our spiritual walks, too. Every day. How many times have we missed small blessings looking for big ones? How often do we pass by people who need our help, all the while praying for purpose? How many times a day... a week... do we ignore the opportunities to serve that God's set before us, while self-righteously proclaiming that we're waiting on "God's will"?
Of one thing I'm sure: God is a God of details. He's a conductor of a staggeringly complex and multi-faceted orchestra: His universe. Our lives. And despite how it may appear to our limited, unseeing eyes, God has plans and purposes. For you. For me. For the lives of those around us. And in spite of our deepest-held expectations or carefully-worded prayers, God's watch doesn't run on our time. His map doesn't look anything like ours. And His purpose, while looking a long way off, could, really, be the very thing ... the very life... that's right in front of us.
Not sure about you, but I mourn the moments I've lost while waiting on others. I'm ashamed of not fully loving the children around me while longing for a child of my own. I'm embarrassed by the times I haven't given when I've been in a position to. I kick myself for the people I could have hugged, or prayed for, or taken cookies to, or met for coffee, but failed to because I was "busy" or tired or hurting myself.
Lewis is right: the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. And the tragedy of being a God-adoring, people-serving, Bible-reading, fervent-praying Christian is the same: it's not that it all ends too soon, but that we wait so, so long to begin.
But it doesn't have to be. That doesn't have to be your tragedy or mine. We can turn it all around today. Start with someone you pass. Or sit next to. Pray for someone who needs it. Hug someone who could use one. And instead of going to God with what you don't have, hold up what you do and say thanks.
It doesn't take much. God can use our moments. A moment here... a moment there... and suddenly we've begun to live a life of purpose. And I don't know about you, but to me, that's hope. That's the hope of one tragedy in life I can sidestep.
Praise God. Praise God....
For if we are faithful to the end,
trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed,
we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
Remember what it says:
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts...