Finally, the next post on what this tour has taught me. Now is the time for Switzerland:
Allow me to start this post, which was written in stages at various locations, over numerous gallons of coffee and at a host of separate times, by stating my dilemma: I am on a world tour and realize how special it is. Therefore, I want to make each and every moment count. Often though, I catch myself focusing so much on ensuring the moment carries value in the future that I forget to enjoy it in the present. Or, I feel bad about time that has past that seems to have been wasted and therefore spend a lot of time trying to attach worth to it: trying to prove to myself that it was not a waste. In the process, the current moment is wasted. Or, so desperately do I try to learn from the past and plan for the future…that I miss the now.
And, alas, this problem is not new to me. Long before the start of this tour I have been having trouble in making each moment count: both now and for eternity.
I know, this seems incredibly stupid and I might be the only person with this problem. But, allow me still to share what I have learned regarding this point, even if it is just for my own benefit…
In 1 Corinthians 15:52 Paul writes the word moment; or the Greek word atomos, to be more precise. Atomos literally means an indivisible slice of time…a moment! I quote Paul, starting midway verse 51 as he is referring to the day at the end of the ages when heaven comes in all its fullness and glory: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Now, I do encourage all to go and read the entire 1 Corinthians 15. The chapter escalates in suspense (if suspense is the right word) from the beginning up to this point and with this verse just explodes. It's kind o' like a piece of classical music (and I must admit, if it hasn't been deduced already, that I am no authority on such music…I probably even muffed the name. But, stick with me.) You know, when the music start slow and gradually it increases in speed and impact and at some point you realize you are no longer just being soothed. Something is busy happening. And then suddenly, nearly every instrument in the orchestra breaks loose in a glorious anthem. I was told that a Russian composer (please forgive me for not being able to quote either the name of the composer or of his work…I would appreciate it if someone could tell me) once reached this stage in one of his works and no instrument could be found to accurately portray the height of joy, exuberance and total victory he wished convey. His final solution was to fire a multitude of military canons at this point!
Anyway, this is the idea I get when Paul speaks of the resurrection (and transformation into the incorruptible) at the end of the age, dealing with several misconceptions and false beliefs and then suddenly when he mentions the actual moment of it happening, he looses composure and burst forth in song! Oh, how wonderful will that resurrection and the eternity thereafter be!!!
Back to the moment Paul referred to. Here God, in a moment, transforms every human being, living and already dead that belongs to Him, into beings fit to enter eternity. If you ask me, that is a pretty mighty work to accomplish in but a single moment!
Five truths do I wish to highlight concerning the moment and eventually come to one simple, apply-able conclusion.
Firstly, it is of worth to note that this is the only place in Scripture where the word atomos is used. I believe this indicates that God and God alone is capable of fully utilizing every single moment. For me to ponder the correct usage of each and every moment for a human is thus utterly upsurd!
This realization, bears tremendous liberation. No longer do I have to strive to make each moment count. No longer have I to ensure I am enjoying each moment to the full (a concept which, in itself is dull, since in no way can the full measure of joy available to a mortal man be reached this side of The Moment, the one Paul referred to).
Can I therefore abandon all attempts to make my moments carry value, if any such attempt seems Biblically futile? By all means no!
I continue with truth number two: the fact that God does use moments. In fact, the entire fabric of time is woven with atomos. By raising up one person here or dropping a single truth there, He changes the entire course of History. You see, He simultaneously exists yesterday, today and forever. He knows exactly what was, is and will be. By introducing small, seemingly insignificant pebbles at the exact precise points, He can change the course of flow of the river of time. By drilling tiny holes at the correct places in a solid concrete wall, the wall can be brought down. (And yes, both these illustrations do come from television.) A wonderful example of His use of moments can be seen in a video created for Hillsong's Easter Film and Art festival (which we had the privilege of attending!!!) Check it out at http://vimeo.com/4353484. I'll get back to this point when I write on what I learned on the Alaskan Cruise.
Truth number three I already alluded to: all of History and all our lives are composed of moments. Our timeline is built with atomos. Now, some of these moments are better that others. Some you wish will never end and some just don't want to end. I know my life thus far has had high- and low-lights and everything in between. And, I know that is how it will be in the future.
Before I continue, a quick story: On Saturday the 11th of July my brothers and I undertook the pilgrimage to the AMC Imax a fair distance south of our home in Atlanta. The entire family (including our sponsor, my grandmother) squeezed into the car and we headed off. Our goal: Transformers...the Imax experience. The outcome: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Words exist not to describe it!
It was that morning, before we hit the road, that I started working on this post. By then, I must admit, I had little to write. After the movie (which, have I mentioned, was absolutely awesome!?) we cooled down in the Barnes and Noble Bookstore closeby. Walking through the millions of books, I was just struck by the immensity of human knowledge and history. I wanted to matter in the greater scheme of it all and realised there was only one way to be sure of that. I simply needed to be obedient to the One that knows every single story of every single human being and every single other creature that roamed this planet in every single moment of its existence! The Lord really blessed me in that bookstore and spoke to me in clarity unmatched for a long time in my life. That was a highlight in my life.
In the store's Starbucks coffee shop, a number of coffee mugs were for sale. Being a fan of coffee (I don't know if you have noticed) I went to check it out. One series of mugs each was adorned with some welknown quotes. One of them struck me: "A life is not measured by the number of breaths it contains, but by the number of moments that take your breath away!"
Right then and there my perspective on the whole concept of the moment changed.
Which brings me to truth number three. The value of my life –both the degree to which I enjoy it and the eternal value it carries- is determined by the sum of the moments it contains. A greater amount of Great moments, or moments that take your breath away, will elevate the overall value of my life.
Truth number four expands on this idea. Not only does a Great Moment increase the overall value of a life, but also the value of the lesser moments around it. The opposite is also true: the lesser moments affect the magnitude of the Great Moments.
Thinking about life in this way has helped me. For now, increasing the value of my life is simplified. I can either increase the average value of the sea of lesser moments, or increase the frequency of the Great moments. According to truth number one (and the personal experience from which it was partially derived) I cannot ensure that every single moment is of Great value, but I can to some degree increase the number of Great Moments. I know, for example that sitting on the lakeshore gazing at the Chicago skyline with a bible in my hand and the Lord by my side is more likely to be a Great moment than watching television. But, even this I cannot really control. In my life, a large number of moments in front of movies that ripped my heart have been far Greater than many other moment with Bible in hand and the best scenery imaginable abounding. And besides, by merely trying to increase the frequency of Great Moments, I'm doing nothing to increase the average value of lesser moments.
Truth number five and my conclusion: Though I can to some degree control the occurrence of Great moments, they very often happen at times when I did not expect. There are, however, certain paths of life that hold a greater number of Great moments. The path on which I find myself, will also affect the average magnitude of all my lesser moments. Bottom line: Instead of concentrating on the current moment and making it count, make sure that you are on the right path and the moment will take care of itself!
Since this realisation hit me, I have applied this concept and have enjoyed the fruit. To me this has been liberating. Thank you Jesus!
Now, concerning the correct path to take several things can be said, but say it now I shan't.The topic of another post it might be.
This then...to make the moment count by ensuring you are on the right path is what this tour had begun teaching me in Switzerland.