UPPER QUADRANT ◽ YOU
I recently heard someone make the comment that everything we possess in life – houses, things, senses, money – will be taken from us at the end of our lives. And that comment made me sad. While it’s true that all of those things will fade with time, it’s sad to think about that day when they all fade away. And yet, as we age and observe our parents lose interest in things that once brought them life, and as they move into situations that require them to give up so much, it’s disheartening and frankly quite scary to think we’re on that same path toward that same end.
This is why we’ve got to live today.
I also recently read about a mom that was worrying about her son leaving for college the next day and already missing him, when her friend said, “You have him today. Enjoy.” And that’s so true, as well. We can enjoy what we have today, give thanks for it, and let time and old age creep in when it will…knowing full well that newness and life is on the other side.
That’s the crux of my discussion in this article – today. With the passing of another year and a new one before us, we can all look at our parents, at our own future, at the possibilities of what might happen as we too get older and we can panic and fear and lose out on all of the grace we’ve been given today by worrying about tomorrow. I’m the world’s worst at doing this.
When I’m surrounded by God’s beauty on any given day, whether it’s sitting with my family nearby, or watching lights twinkle on the Christmas tree, I can ruin those beautiful moments with the thought of what if this happens to destroy all of this beauty.
I’m reading a book called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I’m pretty sure I’m way behind, as many of my friends read this book, years ago. It’s a beautifully written book, but it’s a hard read. It’s because she reminds us to focus on “this” – those moment by moment graces – of “this” day. Not on what if “this” happens. That’s a lot of references to the word “this!”
However, by definition “this” means a person or thing close at hand, or a specific situation just mentioned. And that is what we’re supposed to be noticing, relishing, and rejoicing in.
Psalm 118:24 says This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
John 15:12 says This is my command that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 13:35 says By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
There must be 100’s of verses that have the word “this” in them, drawing our attention to the now, the close at hand, the present situation.
We’ve been given today. Will we rejoice or worry? Will we be glad or sad? We’ve been given purpose in our lives – to love others like Christ loves us. This is our reason for living. We’ve been given the opportunity to make a difference – by the way we love others.
I need these kinds of reminders daily.
When I wake up early in the morning, sometimes my mind races about everything. Seriously, I don’t know where all of these thoughts come from, but they do! I have to physically get up, read, pray, and focus my attention on the “this” for today. Somehow, seeing all of the paths out there in the future create this big spider web in which I become entangled until I turn my focus back to this day, this moment, this grace.
When I leave my house and have just received two texts of God’s grace of healing on two of my friends in the same day, I cry tears of joy. And then immediately I think of the others that haven’t gotten a good report, the ones still awaiting their healing, and I cry for them, as well. Those thoughts can sink me down into a pit of despair until I then remember that this day was good news. And who’s to say that tomorrow’s news won’t be better?
When I lay my head down on my pillow at night wondering what the next season will hold, if my kids’ needs will be met, if my dad is going to make it another year, if we are going to retain our health, and if friends are going to be near, my mind can become a whirlwind of activity that just stirs up so much dust and clutter I cannot see this – the day I was just given – the day I just lived – the breaths I just breathed. This day was a blessing, and I can count those blessings as I drift off to sleep…
We know the givens in life…death and taxes…as my mom used to say. It’s like the givens in a math problem, the fixed values that cannot change. But those variables that change when we insert different numbers always produce different outcomes. And those variables are the different ways we choose to give thanks in noticing this moment, this day, and this gift. Today it might be the gift of health we are giving thanks for, and tomorrow it might be the sunrise. In fact, the sunrise is a given. Variables and the givens make for endless supplies of problems that can be worked out by the master mathematician who created all things in right order and with intricate design, and variations of color and size.
This day, I’m typing this article early, and I’m giving thanks for:
Friends that text in the early morning just to say hi
A sweet husband that rubbed my back just before falling asleep
Ingredients that await me on the stove to fill my house with the aroma of winter smells
A plaid headband to wear for the holidays
The opportunity to share and to write and to send hope to you that read
This is your day. It’s your turn to give thanks. For all this.