Monday, July 10, 2017

4 Resolutions to Live By: Carpe Diem

"Resolved, to live with all my might."

The words jumped out at my from the page, hitting my heart with a palpable force, and I realized that was what I've been missing.

"Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die."

I read an article once, a number of years ago, that discussed that which people regret most; they are not often mistakes made, but are rather those things which were never done. It struck me, as I read this article, that my time is too often spent doing the things I must do, but not often enough spent savoring the moments in front of me - squeezing out of each moment all the joy and benefit that could be had from them.

What does it look like to live with all my might? What would it look like to not lose a moment of time? What would it look like to live with intention?

I grabbed my journal and furiously began scribbling away. First copying Jonathon Edwards resolutions down and determining to claim them as my own. Then pondering what a life like this would look like. What would it look like to not just endure the challenging moments of parenting, but to really enter in fully to each moment and to improve it in the most profitable way I can?  Would I feel less like a babysitter and more like I had a sacred duty to joyfully fulfill?

What would it look like to spend my evenings, creating beauty or bringing order to chaos - contributing something beautiful to my home and family rather than indulging in the unsatisfying past time of entertainment?

More than a year ago, I listened to my dear friend share her heart at a women's retreat. As she spoke on discipleship, she talked about how God had moved in her heart to turn interruptions into opportunities. When I heard her words, I realized they were exactly what I needed to hear as a mama of three little ones. The constant interruptions that come from having three small children were endless - thousands of little tasks interrupted by their needs and demands and problems and desires. At times it felt overwhelming and unmanageable, especially when the needs of one child conflicted with the needs of another. How on earth does a mom supply the needs of their children when they just don't have enough "mom" to give?

These words spoke to my heart reminding me that each of these interruptions, each of their needs, was an opportunity in disguise. An opportunity to disciple them in the truth. An opportunity to show love and patience and forgiveness. An opportunity to teach them something new. An opportunity to point them to Jesus for their needs. So many opportunities hidden beneath the guise of an interruption.

I faithfully began to apply these ideas in my parenting - reminding myself that each moment with them was precious and that it was so important to not let their needs overwhelm me, but let them instead remind me of my need for Jesus and His amazing ability to use each overwhelming situation as an opportunity to invest in my children and their future.

As time ticks by, the firmness of our resolutions can get lost and diluted. Each moment stopped feeling like an opportunity and somewhere along the way, I slipped into what I call "babysitting mode," where you are just trying to enjoy the time together and make sure everyone stays alive and healthy. It was easy to set aside the challenge of the task that God had set in front of me - to disciple and train my children in the Truth in favor of just being happy and comfortable together. Sure, we still read bible stories together and prayed together. We still went to church (or did church on our own at home).  In so many ways, I could convince myself that I was still discipling my children.

But the truth was, I wasn't. Discipleship isn't just giving your kids or others more head knowledge. It isn't just even modeling for them a Christ-honoring life.

When we look at Jesus' life, much of his daily ministry consisted of taking the interruption in front of him and using it as an opportunity to intentionally disciple and love the people in front of him. He didn't waste his time. He didn't just give people more head knowledge. He didn't even just model to them how to pray or teach or do religious activity, although he certainly did those things.

His life consisted of taking every thought, every moment captive to the will of His Father. His life consisted of not losing a moment of time, but improving it in the most profitable way possible.  He took passing encounters and through the intention and leading of His father, He revolutionized lives and villages and cities and, ultimately, the world. A woman at a well - changed, along with her whole village through a simple intentional conversation. Many lives changed and bodies healed in an instant because of the willingness to stop and seize the full possibility of using every moment to bring God glory and to take an interruption and make it an opportunity.

We too, have this choice: will we make the most of every moment and live it with all our might? Will we refuse to simply laze away our lives, but rather squeeze with intention and attentiveness to the Spirit of God the full possibility of each moment of our life? Will we choose to set aside our own comforts and entertainment to enter fully into the possibilities in front of us - refusing to simply consume life but to give life and bring life into this world? Will we choose to see the frustrations and challenges in front of us as divine opportunities to usher in the Kingdom of God more fully? Will we enter into relationships with kingdom intentionality and fully embrace and love and disciple the ones in front us to our fullest ability and Christ's fullest ability within us? We will take our God-given gifts and skills and daily strive to serve others and grow in them and seek to bring God glory with all that we are and all that we do in every moment that we live?

Will we, as Jonathan Edwards resolved, live so as we had wish we had done when we come to die?

These words are challenging and convicting to my soul. I want to live! Friends, I want to really live, and live well and with intention, to the fullest of my ability. When I get to heaven, I want to say that I ran this race with all my might and that I ran to get the prize. I don't want to simply say I exercised a bit - I want to know that I gave it everything I've got, not holding anything back.

In other words, I want to seize each moment, and with all the force and choosing power in me, live it to the fullest, contributing all that I have to improving it and living it for the sake of Christ's kingdom.

Jonathon Edward's resolutions continue and his twenty-second resolution was this:

"Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of."

Whoa. Lest this come across as selfish or un-Christlike in anyway, remember that our greatest happiness in heaven can only be obtained by living our life fully for Christ here on earth - becoming the least and the lowest in order that heaven-side, Christ might raise us up. "Whoever wants to be great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be slave of all."

Jesus talks often in the gospels about the Kingdom of Heaven and he says in Matthew 11:12AMP, "the kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize]."

If we are to seize the Kingdom of Heaven by force, as a precious prize, it means living with all the might and power we have within us to take each moment and squeeze out of it all the kingdom potential we can.

As we look at this verse in Matthew, it alludes that there is a war waging - a common theme we see in the gospels; a war is being waged against the kingdom of heaven by the enemy, or the adversary, or the devil. And yet, in this verse, and others like it, we see that a certain amount of inward determination and willpower is necessary in order to fight for the Kingdom of Heaven.  If the battle we are facing is against an adversary who wants the Kingdom of Heaven to suffer losses - which is often done through the choice of people to live for themselves rather than God - then it stands to reason that to seize the Kingdom of Heaven by force is through choosing, with all our might, to live for God rather than for ourselves.

In so many ways, living for Jesus is the crazy life of giving up your own rights for the sake of others and the gospel - the backward kingdom where we find life in death, greatness in becoming less, more in giving up, and finding in losing. It's backwards, but it seems to be the way He likes to usher in His kingdom. The wisdom of Heaven is foolishness to earthly reason, but it is life and power to those who are being saved.  Basically, these upside-down ways our King chooses to advance His kingdom might make no sense to those who don't know Him, but to those of us who have been changed by His grace and have found true life in losing our earthly lives, we know that this is the true power of God! We know that we only find life when we give our lives up and that the choice to give our life up is a daily intentional thing that requires absolute surrender to the will of God through faith and a willingness to choose, with all our might, to live for that which is not seen. It's crazy!

This is it - will we willingly choose to live with all our might while we do yet live? We only get one shot. We have but one life to live and will we choose, to live it for a Kingdom we don't yet see and for a God whose ways are foolishness to those who don't know Him? Will we die to ourselves so that we can live in Him? And will we live, with all our might and power, to take mundane interruptions and experiences and turn them into opportunities for our future happiness heaven-side? Will we have an eternal view that says that these moments, small though they are, are achieving for me an eternal weight of glory, through the transformative power of Jesus Christ and through my willingness to fight for His glory over my momentary comfort?

I read once that a priority is something you do. Until you act, it is only a wish. How true these words are!  We show our priorities in what we do. I'm choosing these resolutions because, I long to DO them and turn my life from valuing these ideas to making them a priority.

Starting right now - by grabbing my sweet children's chubby cheeks and planting kisses on their giggling faces and knowing that I only get one "now." I want to seize it with all my might, and live it for a kingdom and a King that is yet to be seen.

Will you seize your "now" and resolve with me to live each moment to the fullest, as we shall wish we had done when we come to die? Will you resolve with all your might to improve each moment in the most profitable way you can, and see your interruptions as opportunities?

Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.

{To join along on this Carpe Diem adventure, you can subscribe to receive posts}

No comments: