On Making the Most of Every Moment 

Very recently, I received news that a friend passed away in a car accident. He was 22.

It’s something we all hear about – you know, a young person passing away, before his/her time, and when I hear those stories, I think about the friends they left behind, the people who were just as young. I think about how hard that must be. Because when we’re young, we think we’re invincible. We have our whole lives ahead of us. Nothing can stop us.

So when I hear stories likes that, I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine what that must be like. I like to think I’m a pretty empathic person, but those “imagine-if” scenarios are nothing compared to the moments where it actually happens to you.

As I was thinking about the news, I was so struck at how quickly everything can change, and how unexpectedly, too, with no apparent good reason. I knew I wanted to write about it. Simply because I write about the things that are weighing on me and the things Jesus shows me, usually as He is showing me, and this was definitely a moment like that.

But I talked myself out of it for a while.

See, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to write it as gracefully as I wanted. I was afraid that I would say something wrong, somehow send off the wrong vibe. So I just wasn’t going to write it.

But if I did that, I would have been doing the exact opposite of what I wanted to write about. The title of this post is “On Making the Most of Every Moment.” If I talked myself out of writing this post, when it was something weighing on me, I would’ve been letting fear and “what-ifs” scare me out of doing something I felt was important and worthwhile.

So anyway, here I am, writing this post. I hope it honors my friend, and I hope it honors the Lord and Savior he went to celebrate forever with.

Back-tracking a bit, I was sitting in my room with my best friend when she extended her phone to me to show me a text that said our (mutual) friend had passed away. At first, it didn’t hit me, and I don’t think it hit her at first either. We both sort of sat there, alternating between silence and stunned speak for a little while.

Because hearing something like that, when we’re both under 20 years old, it’s shocking to say the least.

And then I started thinking about that shock. I started thinking about all the times I’d heard those stories about kids and young adults passing away before their time and all the times I’d tried to empathize with their friends and family members. I started thinking about the unpredictability of life, how short it really is.

We don’t know when our time will be, or when our friends’ times will be, or when our family members’ times will be. We don’t know, and we can’t know.

So the only thing we can do is make the most of every possible moment.

As I was thinking about this post, I was thinking about the parable of the ten bridesmaids. Maybe it’s because I read that parable recently and then heard a sermon that talked about it, but for some reason, that’s the passage that popped into my head. Before I go into it, I want to ask that y’all bear with me. I might not be using it (at first) entirely in its context, but I think and I hope I’m using the heart of it properly.

Basically, in Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells a story about ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the return of the bridegroom. They each had lamps with them, and five of them brought along extra oil for the lamps. The other five didn’t.

Well, by the time the bridegroom came along, the five without extra oil had run out. They asked the others for oil, but the others only had enough for their own lamps. So, only the five who were prepared got to celebrate with the bridegroom.

In verse 13, Jesus concludes the parable by saying: “‘So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return'” (NLT).

Because we don’t know when our time (or the time of those we love) will come, we have to utilize every moment. 

We can’t afford to waste the day away arguing or gossiping or getting mad over petty things or refusing to forgive someone. We have to be prepared for whatever life may throw at us, and the best way to be prepared is to focus on Jesus and submitting to the Holy Spirit every. single. moment. 

Look, y’all, I’m as bad as the next girl (or guy) at letting those un-Christ-like behaviors consume too much of my time. But I’m sick and tired of it. That doesn’t mean that I’ll magically be perfect. But I do believe that Jesus is using this experience to push me towards more consistent following of Him.

So here’s to focusing on kindness instead of petty anger. Here’s to putting down the phone and computer a bit more often and spending more (focused) time with family and friends. Here’s to making the most of every moment I have with them on earth.

So all that was me talking about my relationships with others. But there’s another side to all this, a side that I think was more in tune with what Jesus might have intended the parable to be about.

I’m still talking about following Jesus with every moment of our lives, yes. But now I want to focus specifically on our relationship with Him, which is the relationship from which all our other relationships will flow.

See, my friend was on fire. On fire for the Lord. Honest to goodness, he was such an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to so many others, because of his zeal for the Lord. He led youth worship when I was in youth group, volunteered at youth camp, and even helped with worship at a ministry when he went off to college.

But beyond all that, his relationship with the Lord shone through in his personality and his entire attitude. He was one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. And I use the word joyful intentionally. He was happy, sure, but happiness is fleeting. Everyone could see that he had something deeper than happiness. He had a joy that could only come from the Lord.

When Jesus talks about the five bridesmaids who were prepared, I’m sure my friend would have fallen into this camp. He wasn’t slacking off; he was preparing for when he got to meet Jesus face to face.

And now, he’s finally gotten to.

He was prepared. He was ready. He had his oil ready to go.

The question is: are we? Am I?

I know my friend is having just the greatest time worshipping the Lord right now, and I want to look back on his life and learn through the example Jesus left in him.

I want to yearn to know the Lord more and more with every day. I want everyone to be able to see a joy in me that can only come from the Lord. I want to serve the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I want to never grow weary in this. Because that’s what we were made for.

And, if we do that, maybe we can inspire someone else with our lives just as my friend has inspired me.

We never know whose life we might touch, and who Jesus might speak to through us.

So, let’s go on and make the most of every moment.

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Jesus & Good Vibes

Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few people requesting “good vibes” or “good thoughts” or something of the sort be sent their way because they’re in some sort of bad situation.

And it’s really starting to break my heart.

Good vibes and good thoughts will not help anyone out of a bad situation. 

That line of thinking is one of the dangers of our culture today. We don’t want to acknowledge an omnipotent (and loving God) so we just ask for good vibes, thinking, surely, those will help us. All we need is positive thinking, right? And everything will be fine?

No. No, no, no.

Positive thinking-even positive thoughts from others, even if we had the whole world thinking positive thoughts on our behalf-will not save us.

Only Jesus saves. 

Take a quick flip with me through the Gospels. Just by flipping through the book of Matthew, I counted 14 individual accounts of Jesus healing others. That doesn’t count the times it was simply  written that he healed many.

It’s clear that Jesus heals all sorts of physical ailments.

But he doesn’t just heal physically- he also heals spiritually.

In Mark 2:1-5, a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus. His response? “‘My child, your sins are forgiven'” (NLT). Afterwards, he proves his authority by commanding the man to stand up and walk.

So no matter the situation, no matter where we are in life, no matter how many times we’ve messed up, Jesus heals, completely and totally. And Jesus alone can truly save us.

In fact, he died to do just that. He walked on earth, began the largest ministry ever known, and was crucified, all for us. But on the third day, he rose from the dead, defeating the grave, and walked on earth once more before ascending into heaven.

He died and rose again to bring us new life and to truly save us.

All that he asks from us? That we believe in him, that we have faith that he died and rose again. Simply to place our faith and trust in him, and him alone.

It’s amazing grace, it really is, that this omnipotent, omniscient, death-defeating, forgiving God loves us. 

With this God who loves us, there is no longer a need for “good vibes” and “good thoughts” to be sent our way. All we need now is Jesus. We call out to him, our friends call out to him on our behalf, and He’s got us.

When All We Can Do Is Pray

“All you can do is pray.”

A lot of well-meaning Christians say that. We can’t help actively, but we can certainly send our prayers. We’re sorry we can’t do more.

But stop. Stop right there.

We can’t do more than simply praying. That’s right. But not in the way it’s meant above.

It’s right because prayer is the most powerful weapon against all things worldly. We can’t do anything more than pray because there is nothing that has the power that prayer does.

I mean, sure, we’d love to be able to lend a helping hand, to fight tooth and nail against the evils that trouble us. And that’s not a bad thing. But without prayer, even that is inconsequential.

Everything we do is fruitless without God. He is the King of the universe, the One who defeated sin and death. We can’t hope to defeat sinful things without Him.

Which is why, even when we can act, we first need prayer. And even when we can’t act, prayer is still just as powerful.

We need to make prayer our first resort, not our last. We need to make prayer our first resort in all things, the big, the small, the monumental, the seemingly inconsequential. God hears them all, and He wants us to tell Him all of them.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

All we need is to ask with the faith of a mustard seed, and He will answer.

So, let’s get to knocking.