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Momentary But Momentous

Life is a series of moments. This is a new concept for me. Maybe it’s not new to others, but for me it has changed the way I live each day.

Several months ago I spent some time talking to a close friend of mine, Jeff. Having not seen each other for over a year, we had a lot of catching up to do. We meandered from subject to subject, each sharing memorable times from months before that the other didn’t know about.

Through the course of our conversation, we began talking about all these moments in our lives that continue to affect us. There in that moment, we saw God. Late into the night, long after my wife had gone to bed, we saw the blessing and wonder of our friendship that has lasted for years. And we realized that the most significant moments we had experienced were the ones in which we saw God. Jeff’s hike to the hot springs in Oregon, my struggle to figure out where my passions fit into life, his love for physics and singing in choirs—in all these moments in our lives, God revealed pieces of His glory. It became real that this life is a series of moments.

So many of us wait for that one defining moment, that one instance in which everything changes, everything becomes clear and life changes forever. The only problem is that by definition, moments don’t last. Whoever was the first to say, “This too shall pass,” nailed life on earth down to its one certainty. Every moment passes to the next. The wonderful, incredible, beautiful moments pass. The grueling, frustrating, horrible moments pass. The one defining moment that will last us the rest of our lives will never come. At some point we may get tired of waiting for the good moments, so we manufacture them. Every drug addict is trying to get back to that first moment when their high was the greatest thing they had ever experienced. Every workaholic thinks that if he just puts in another hour, the “good life”—the great moments—will come. I know a guy whose only purpose in life is to get drunk on the weekends. Name whatever you want; the truth is, in our pursuit of the big moments, we miss the small ones along the way. This is what has changed my life.

I’ve been thinking about this concept for some time now. A month ago I was shoveling six inches of snow off of our sidewalk. After finishing, I looked over my shoulder to the tree line far behind our house and saw the sun just beginning to set. It looked as if a glass rose had shattered, and its pieces were scattered across the horizon. Small clouds were gliding in and out of the windows of light, lighting up like candles glowing through a curtain. I was mesmerized. It must have been about 20 degrees out there, but I stood and watched the sky for nearly 15 minutes. This moment of beauty worked itself into me so deeply that I couldn’t tear myself away. As I stood and watched the sunset, my conversation with Jeff came back to me. I realized this was one of those small moments I almost missed, and I thanked God for it. Since then I’ve been more and more aware of the moments that occur, whether it’s walking through New York City with a friend, sitting in peace and quiet with my wife on the couch or watching the snow blowing gently across the road as I drive by. This life is full of beauty God made to be enjoyed; our part is to just slow down long enough to experience the moment, to be quiet long enough to listen.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we all want paradise, and we’re all stuck in the swamp. We all want peace, but we’re stuck in the war. These moments of beauty are glimpses of paradise; moments of peace are respites from the storm. They are gifts from God. They will pass because we’re not in heaven yet. But what a wonderful thought, that heaven will finally be the moment of peace and beauty that will never end. All that we wish for and all the good that passes here in this process of dying will be fulfilled in our eternal home. All of our longings will be met in heaven, in living with our Creator. Until then, let’s not pass by the gifts God gives us. He is forever calling us home, showing us what we have to look forward to, giving us a moment of rest as we continue on our journey. No moment is too small to affect us in some way.

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