The Moment

 

Birds singing, a person smiling, a long, winding conversation.

This is the present, slow and beautiful.

Rain falling, a page turning, light shifting across the room.

This is now, full of rhythm.

Never a moment quite like it again.

Hurry and stress accomplish what,

If we never notice the small things?

Never notice the skitter of leaves upon the ground,

The clouds inching across the wide, blue sky.

How much we can easily miss in the hustle and bustle!

Each moment, a gift.

Do we throw it away in our rush for the next?

 

 

 

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22. Placing Hope

Guess you could say the start of it was watching a series on 1 Peter by John Piper. The climax came on a night filled not with sleep, but with shooting pain and anxiety.

The work of making a man new belongs only to the Holy Spirit and He finds the most perfect ways of doing so.

A passage of the Word is a mish-mash of words until He shows up, even when it is being taught well.

Lyme Disease brings with it waves of symptoms. For the first time, a big one was hitting and my hope was that tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow came, over and over. There was no better, but in fact, worse.

Hope began to fade as depression took over.

To make matters worse, a night of poor sleep came. The next night came and sleep evaded me effectively as I tried to deal with new pain and anguish.

Finally, enough was enough. Who cares about sleep. It was time to talk to the Shepherd. To be more correct though, it would be called listening.

They weren’t so much like questions coming from Him, but:

What if this life is so short that no pleasure is okay?

What if the sole hope is best placed in Jesus and eternity, rather then in feeling better?

What if this world is not my home?

Do you know, the coming sleep deprived day, and the days following were overflowing with joy. The wave of Lyme symptoms morphed from my greatest nuisance into my valuable treasure.

A correctly placed hope has a way of infusing any and every situation with strong joy, this I have experienced.

So to quote some of the beautiful, precious words that unknown to me at the time began the journey to this ah-ha moment:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

– 1 Peter 1:3-9

12. Joy

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

– Matthew 13:44

We often forget the crucial role that joy plays in the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This past Sunday, the coordinator of the area that I serve in at church was specifically going over “serving values.” Basically, my church does not want us serving if we are just doing it to earn God’s favor or to check off service hours. Serving, rather, should be a joyful response to God’s awesome love and grace.

From the beginning of creation, man was given a choice to love God, or to turn our backs on Him. He did not want robots; He wanted real love. Real love is when you choose someone or something over yourself. But He didn’t just ask for it, God went even further and pursued us, giving us a reason to love Him. (In fact, we are not able to love God unless He gives us the ability to do so.)

After explaining how amazing and wise God is, Paul says,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1

In this verse, “spiritual worship” can be replaced with “rational service.” In other words, it is our practical response.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) So it is not something that you can force, like happiness. Happiness comes and goes. You can make yourself happy (for a little while) by doing things you enjoy. Joy is different though. The way to get it is to focus on God and eternal things.

Jesus put it this way, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” (Luke 17:33)

It’s an upside-down kingdom where Jesus reigns. To give in to grace is to give up your life. To give up your life is a joy because of His amazing grace, love, and mercy.