Have you ever thought about time? I mean, really sat down and thought about it. I know, I might be the only one…but go with me for a second.
Let’s break down a year:
60 seconds =1minute//60 minutes=1 hour// 24 hours=1 day//7 days=1 week//365 days=1 year//52 weeks=1 year//12 months=1 year
Or a week:
7 days=1 week//168 hours=1 week//10,080 minutes=1 week//604,800 seconds=1 week
Or a day:
24 hours=1 day//1,440 minutes=1 day//86,400 seconds=1 day
I throw all those numbers at you ultimately to pose a question: What do we do with all of our time?! Even more of provoking question might be: How do we do we react to the things that happen in our time?
might have been, probably was, was, without a shadow of a doubt, the absolute hardest year of my almost 33 years on this planet. I was stretched, pushed away, forgotten, talked about, lied to, and any other form of emotional hurt that you could think of. This past year would be something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I’ll never forget coming in the door of my home and collapsing on the floor, looking at my wife through the tears in my eyes and telling her, “I was fired.”
I was in total shock. We all were. Never in a million years did I see that coming. I honestly can say no other thing but that I was crushed. I’ve been a youth pastor for the past 14 years and a part of youth ministry leadership since I was in High School. Growing up, I was that crazy kid who didn’t want to be a fireman, police man, or ride in the rodeo. I just wanted to preach. From the moment I got saved, I never thought of doing anything else but being a pastor. I mean, c’mon…I could teach God’s word, love on people, and get paid for it??? WHAAA? Sounded 100% like something I would want to do. I’ve been a pastor longer than I’ve been married, been a dad, heck, almost half my life.
God has allowed me to serve in a few different churches, granted me the honor of speaking in many states, and given me the opportunity to minister in several countries. He birthed in me a heart of making disciples for His Kingdom. I’ve had the joy of discipling numerous students in a one-on-one setting, preaching once, sometimes twice a week for years on end, baptized so many teenagers and adults, and the highest honor of all–being able to consistently give the gospel of Jesus and consistently see people accept Him as their Savior.
Almost all of my life and even to this day, all I long to do is what God has called me to do, which is to be a faithful servant of the gospel. And, in the span of a 47 minute meeting, it was all taken away–14 years of all I’ve known, gone.
We all at some point have experienced a blow like that, and if you haven’t, I hate to break it to you, you most likely will. Maybe it was a doctor telling you you had the C-word. Maybe it was a spouse that looked you in the eye and told you of their unfaithfulness. Maybe it was when the child that you raised, loved, cared for, looks you in the eye and says, “I hate you.” Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were looking to get, maybe you got demoted, or maybe, like me, got fired from your position. Whatever the maybe might be for you, it’s the same for all of us. It hurts. It stings…honestly, it just plain sucks.
Many times when we are faced with these situations, our flesh takes over and tries to figure out how to fix these them. “Who can we call? Who can help? Who can intercede and take the pain away?” We tell ourselves if we can just make it to tomorrow, everything might be better; everything might just be okay.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long. I’m inpatient. 24 hours? That’s a long time. Just look back at how many seconds, minutes, and hours are in a day. A TON. What if we changed our thinking from, “I’m taking things day-by-day,” to,” I’m going to take things moment-by-moment.” Change our mindset from, “If I can just get through this day,” to, “If I can just get through this moment.” The good news is that God’s word gives us a plan of how to respond when issues knock the wind out of us. In fact, one of the most famous Bible characters, Peter, helps us understand how we might need to look at our setting.
Let me give you a little back story on Peter: We meet Peter in scripture as he is a fisherman in his family business. Jesus comes on the scene and totally interrupts his day, telling Peter to come follow Him. So he did. For 3 and a half years, Peter ate, talked, walked, hung out, learned from, joked with, and had the opportunity to look the Son of God in the eyes. All these moments were incredible. He was bold, almost to the point that sometimes he could be brash. Before Jesus was lead to the cross, Jesus told Peter that he would deny knowing Him 3x’s. Peter was hurt, but before sun broke the horizon and the rooster wailed his wake up song the next morning, he did just as Jesus said.
Imagine how Peter felt in that moment. The pain, hurt, confusion, isolation he experienced. He was told that [what we know as] the church would start with him, and all that was taken away in what seemed to be an instant. In the time where Jesus was gone, Peter went back to the only thing he knew before Jesus met him-fishing. Peter probably sat on his boat and just wished the time would speed up to where he could just be released from the pain he was feeling.
But I’m so glad that’s not the end of the story. 3 days after Jesus’ death, He appears to the disciples, including Peter. Jesus looked Peter in the eyes, gave him instructions, and in that moment ultimately said for him to forget what had happened and follow him (again).
Jesus ascends into heaven, and Peter goes on to do some radical things in Acts, even at one point seeing 3,000 people get saved. He also was given the opportunity to have 2 of his letters published in the best-selling book of all time.
In one of those letters, Peter writes these words:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. [1 Peter 5:6-10niv]
I have no doubt that as he’s dipping his pen into the ink and as these words are being inscribed on the parchment, his mind thought back to his moments with Jesus. He was reminded of the good times he enjoyed, but also the excruciating pain he experienced. Yet, he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he went through. He doesn’t want others to feel the emptiness of the moments he had.
When you experience a tragedy in your life, those times when you think you just can’t make it to the next day, what if you broke the day down into moments, and remind yourself that if you can just get through this moment, you can make it to the next one, and then the next, then the next.
These scriptures should encourage you to do just that. How? Peter says, that as a believer, whatever you go through, eventually on God’s timing (whether it be in life or through death), you will be able to see your Savior face to face.
He also says that you’re not alone in feeling the way you feel. There are people not only on the other side of the hemisphere experiencing what you’re experiencing, but even on the other side of the country, possibly, on the other side of the pew you sit in or street you live on. The enemy will do whatever he can to make you lose focus, so you have to be cognizant of who you are in Christ and ready for those times to come.
The verse that stands out to me in this is the one highlighted, “Cast ALL of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I couldn’t say it any better than how the Amplified Bible puts it: “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” What hope Peter’s story gives us in our moments of hardship!
This is not something we need to do tomorrow. This is not even something we need to do in a few hours. This is something we need to do right now. Right in the moments of our struggle. Right in the moments of our pain.
Here’s the beauty…never let the hard moments overshadow the good ones. We can’t focus on the negatives and not see that there are way more positive moments that we participate in. Is this easy? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. We are so used to just getting through this day to get to the next that we forget about the moments that make up today.
When you’re at the point of greatest need, stand firm in the moments you’re living in, knowing that nothing has taken God by surprise. God never flinched on his throne when your life and His will collided. This isn’t just something I’m suggesting you do, but something I’d encourage you to work through alongside me. May we have a change of heart from taking things day-to-day, to living with a reality that our lives are made up of millions of moments, some great, some horrible, some fun, and some tougher than others. All these moments have one goal that we must adhere to-Jesus wants our moments. He wants us to hold his hand and allow Him to love us all the way through until we get to the climax of our faith, seeing Him face to face. Why? Because he cares for (insert your name here).
My prayer is that our moments may be blessed and our mindset be changed from this moment to the next, knowing that God is waiting on us to get there with open arms.