Friday, February 1, 2008

Living in the Moment

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

What is Living in the Moment?

This is the abundant life: to live life to the full.

My most treasured lesson from my last weeks in London is what joy is found in living in the moment. I knew my time in London was short, time I’d never get back, so I met new people, experienced new things, had fun, made a lot of memories and through it all, learned a great deal.

This blog is the start of a series on the abundant life… what it means, what’s keeping us from it, and how to bring it back. For those of you that are followers of Christ, you know this starts with Him and I’ll express what he’s been teaching me about it. For those of you that might be reading my blogs for the first time, you’ll find that even though the basis of my writing is my faith, of which you may hold different belief, there still may be valuable principles for you.

My last month in London, I took a lot of chances. I opened my heart and my mind. I was bold, care free. And though there was even hurt, I regret not one thing. Why don’t I live this way every single day of my life? Two reasons: I don’t feel I have the right… and I’m scared.

I always thought living in the moment a secular concept and one of which Christians should be weary. Scripture says that’s not the case at all! God wants us to live in today. He doesn’t want us endlessly licking our past wounds. He doesn’t want us meticulously focused on preparing for tomorrow. God wants us to embrace what he has for us today, right in this moment.

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Discerning Moments

Hmmm… What about discernment? Does this mean we just throw caution to the wind?

By definition, living in the moment is about spontaneity and freedom. This isn’t negated in the Christian life. God has given us great freedoms and isn’t inherently against spontaneity. Ironically however, the ability to live truly in the moment, means living moments within boundaries. There is a delicate balance between embracing and experiencing all life has to offer and just being stupid.

Consider this: We all know that a moment lost, is a moment wasted. But have you ever stopped to think, that a moment abused, is setting you up to WASTE another moment? When we’re foolish or selfish or in other ways sinful in our moments, we hurt people. We can hurt ourselves! Then we have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the mess. What’s the point of that? Living properly in the moment should never cause harm and never leave us in regret. It should leave us with great satisfaction!

Casting Out Fear

So, God wants us to live in today, to live in the moment, but I’m scared! What do I do?

In my last weeks in London, I had nothing to lose. No one could abandon me, break my heart. I had no future expectations, nothing I could mess up; I was leaving! It made me fearless.

The fear of rejection and abandonment has been a huge issue for me in the last two years, as I’ve mourned the loss of a particular friendship. This loss was on the tail of another friend dying and many moving away. I didn’t want to EVER open up again because it hurt too much. I didn’t want to take a chance in anything, because I was scared of messing up my life.

A friend of mine in London helped me realize that these fears were keeping me from living my life. He shared with me an interesting quote from CS Lewis (below). I realized my fear was keeping me from all God had for me, because my fear was altering my behavior.

"The pain now is part of the happiness then. We can't have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That's the deal." CS Lewis

We can play it safe. We can find a way to stay disengaged just enough, to protect ourselves from future hurts. Problem is, then we limit what we can do, be, and experience today. We will never be able to achieve our fullest potential, mind blowing experiences and relationships, if we play it safe. I don’t want to play it safe any more.

How to Create Great Moments

There are no set formulas to live in and make the most of moments. Yet in my time in London, I did two things consistently that freed me to maximize moments and embrace all of life:

1. I kept God in the center, always.

I look back on London with no regrets, because each step I walked with God. I made it a priority to worship, pray, read scripture and fellowship with other believers when home. When it was hard, I asked God, and friends, how I might be creative to stay connected to Jesus. When I wrestled with sin, I asked friends to hold me accountable. I stayed close to the vine.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

God was the director of my moments. I wanted to live in his will and asked him regularly what to do or say in given situations. I knew his plan was better than mine. He had great moments prepared for me, if I’d just listen and obey. I asked him to help me see moments and help me savor them. I wasn’t always on my A-game, but generally, when I was told to act, I acted. I took the adventure; I had the conversation. And when I was told to wait, I was still. I trusted Him and held back. I kept my mouth shut. God honored this… and I have so much to show for it!

I was in the right mindset, so I was in the right moments! I want to always live like this!

Obviously this principle is critical for the Christ-follower. However, even if you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, you can extrapolate a method from this. Ask your self these questions: Who am I? What do I value? What character traits is it important I portray? What do I want others to be able to say about me? What makes me pleased with myself? What behavior has left me in discontent, embarrassment, and disappointment before?

If you are well a tune to who you are and how you want to live, you will make choices accordingly, even in the moment. But if you don’t, or if when analyzing this, you find yourself to be more selfish or of ill repute than you believed, you’re setting yourself up for messy and hurtful moments.

2. I was freed up to take chances and stretched myself.

Oh, there were so many examples of this! God would put amazing opportunities in front of me and I had a choice. I could LEAP out of my comfort zone or I could play it safe.

First thing I want to note though, as that I was freed up to take chances. Before I left for London, I was miserable. I was crazy busy and yet, felt empty and frustrated. Missing a social event felt uncomfortable and saying no to a ministry seemed wrong. I couldn’t see that I was wasting my time and energy on activities and people God never intended. I wasn't freed up to even SEE the moments God might have for me.

God took me to London to clear my plate. I could start over, be more selective in my commitments and my relationships. I could listen to God’s voice and could be spontaneous. I could leap!

I went to Portugal by myself and had the most amazing five days in recent history. I learned so much about myself and God. I relied on him and grew my faith exponentially. Not to mention, I saw so much cool stuff and met some really neat people. I almost didn't go out of fear - But what a blessing that I did!

In England, I explored everything, from new churches, to new pubs (yes, pubs), to parks and monuments. I’d take adventures by myself or collect others to go along. These created even more opportunity to see the world through new eyes.

I had what seemed like a MILLION conversations about what Christ meant to me…and I almost NEVER was the one to bring it up. I was given all sorts of opportunities to glorify Him and talk about the differences he’s made in my life. I didn’t chicken out for fear of not fitting in. I was obedient and God really used me in the lives of others. I made a difference for the Kingdom.


So… Where are you holding back? Do you need to clear your plate a bit? Do you need to get more in touch with your center? Or is just time to do some leaping?

Lord Jesus, I pray you help all of us to live in the moment, REALLY in the moment. Help us to discern what that means, day to day. Let us act in so that we will have no regrets, moments lost or moments of mistake. Help us to see who we are and what moments you have for us. In our moments, may we always glorify you and bless others, while we experience, learn and grow. Grant us discernment, when to leap and when to be still. Protect us from our own selfishness; may living our moments never harm another. Break down our walls, so we can live without fear and not miss one thing. AMEN!

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