Life is full of moments. We try to capture them, share them, hold on to them, and leave some behind. Sometimes the moments that we wish to hold on to longest seem the most fleeting and the moments that we would like best to forget seem to linger around, outstaying their welcome.
It’s always a challenge to approach moments with wisdom and discernment, knowing what is helpful and healthy in regards to that approach. How long do we stay in that moment? Will it last? What happens if it feels too long? Can I move past it in a healthy and helpful manner?
Over the last few years, there have been dozens of moments that I would like to capture in a bottle to be drunk whenever I am in need. There have also been moments that have been indelibly marked on my brain that I would like to leave behind, to forget and wipe away. Our brains don’t always afford us that luxury, but it’s always good to hope and dream.
Sometimes, we might find ourselves stuck in moments that we can’t get out of (yes, it’s kind of a nod to U2, but it’s a true statement). We seem overwhelmed and paralyzed by the moment and all that it entails. Escape seems futile and we seem powerless to its effects on us. We may be consumed by anxiety or worry. We may feel inadequate to move past such a monumental moment.
Jesus had some helpful words for those of us who might find ourselves stuck in moments. In fact, Jesus’ words really had to do with those of us who might find ourselves stuck in moments that have not even happened. We may have projected the outcome that we anticipate or expect and begun to live in that projected reality. The moment may not even exist but only in our minds, and yet we may find ourselves stuck in it.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” That last question is the one that constantly captures me, at least at this moment of my life. Who of us can add to our lives with worry?
In fact, we are probably doing more harm than good when we worry, causing stress and anxiety to creep into our lives, worrying about a projected outcome that may or may not happen rather than dealing with the moment when it comes. Worrying does not help our cause, it only complicates it.
As a pastor, I have always been amazed that the sermons people make the most positive comments on are the ones where God has had to do the most work on and in me. When I share and preach out of the struggles and tests of my own life, it seems to be most effective. When I share as a fellow sojourner rather than as an expert, there is traction.
The idea of getting stuck in a moment is too near to my heart. As much as I wish it weren’t, I need to be honest and confess that I find myself too often living in a projected reality without letting things play out. I anticipate, oftentimes wrongly, what will take place. Maybe it’s a result of the things that have happened to me and those whom I love over the past few years. But to let those things paralyze me, freeze me in a moment, is exactly what Jesus tells us not to do.
And how do we do that? How do we rise above the worry? Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We present our requests, our struggles, our burdens, and the things that we continue to hold onto (or maybe which hold onto us) to God. We pray in thankfulness, we open our hearts and minds to Christ Jesus to be filled with the peace which is incomparable.
This is what a pastor I once served with would call a “growing edge.” It’s an area in my life that I have struggled with, struggled to give up, struggled to abandon myself to. Some days are easier than others while some days seem nearly impossible. But, if I don’t succeed at first, I can’t give up.
Yes, it’s easy to get stuck in a moment, to project out the future, and then to live in the worry of the anticipated moment. The harder thing to do is to trust that God will take that moment and do with it as needs to be done. It may not always be what we want, but his control is far greater than ours. I’ve been stuck in a moment and I’m ready to get out, but it won’t happen alone. Worry and anxiety won’t lengthen my life, so they have to go. There are moments that I would love to be stuck within, but moments that contain those things aren’t among those choice moments at all.
May we trust that worry and anxiety won’t work out for our benefit. May we know that when we turn these things over, that God will take them and will give us peace in return. That seems like a fairly good return policy, and I think I’m ready to take advantage of it.