A few weeks ago I initiated The Morning Joy Challenge. I hope many of you have chosen to seize the moment, and have begun to experience a fresh perspective with the rise of the sun. (Please feel free to leave comments below about your journey with that!) Just what does the dawn of the day hold for each of us? We need to begin well, of course, but we also need to move on into the day well if we are going to truly be joy journeying.
I’ll just come right out with a confession: Mornings aside, I’ve lived too much of my life at a frantic pace, in body and in mind. (Have you ever watched a hamster run around his cage? Across the back, into the tunnel, out of the tunnel, on the wheel, in the food dish, over his brother, back on the wheel…).
I’ve been a lot like him. I’ve been a hamster.
And living life at a frantic pace has not been good for my soul. It has not been beneficial to my marriage, or my kids, or my friendships, or my vocation. And let’s not even talk about my housekeeping. (Incidentally, I’ve discovered a correlation between the state of my mind and the state of my house. Sometimes it’s actually the clutter around me that suddenly notifies me of my pace. It pays to be observant of these things, my friends.)
But I love to work and to be productive and efficient and good at what I do. So is it wrong for me to stack up on responsibilities and move deftly through them all the time? Well, no. And yes. It comes down in part to motivation. Does my pace of life honestly reflect a joyous engagement with the Lord and the imprint I can leave on this world? If so – awesome! I should keep it up. This world needs energetic and passionate people tirelessly bringing His Kingdom to bear in homes, in the marketplace, and in neighborhoods. I believe God has placed within me a desire to do good things with excellence, and it’s important to lean into God-given wiring.
But sometimes I’ve found that my frenetic speed and overloaded schedule pull me away from spending time quietly with the Lord. Most times this happens, I realize that I’ve been allowing my pace to be propelled by a need to earn respect and appreciation. Occasionally I can become motivated by the misconception that my worth is tied up in my accomplishments, how much ministry I do, and how successful I look to other people, or even to God. Now, I’ve been a believer for eighteen years, and I know that my worth and identity are found in Him alone. So why does a need to please people arise sometimes? And why do I occasionally forget that I can’t make myself look better for God? (He’s pretty intimately acquainted, after all, with the real Elizabeth Joy.)
For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
He loved me even before He picked me up and cleaned me off. God loves me, and He chose me, and He sees me wrapped in Christ. My worth is there.God loves me, and He chose me, and He sees me wrapped in Christ. My worth is there. Click To Tweet
In a crazy way, the last eight months have been a paradox of incredible busy-ness and strange quiet. Our difficult decision to make another ministry move from Canada into the United States propelled us into the throes of trying to sell a house, packing it up, conquering immigration hurdles, moving everything we own 1400 miles, dealing with unexpected transition trauma with our kids, embarking on the unfamiliar journey of homeschooling teenagers, and trying to acclimate to a very different culture. Those of you who have done the same – God bless you! In some ways, it feels like a continual case of breathlessness.
But part of moving from one country to another as a dependent is the sudden inability to work. With an unknown ending point to the process, waiting for a work permit has forced me to be home, only remaining in the throes of the family dynamics. And if I’m honest, that’s thrown me off my game. I don’t have the outside pressures of a job that have so often tugged on my attention. I don’t have the responsibilities of work pulling me in multiple directions at the same time. For this change, I am so very thankful. My breathlessness is juxtaposed against a strange calm. But I’ve not exactly known what to do with it…
Gifted with this new season, I’ve been reminded of the Latin phrase, “Carpe diem”. These words are often thrown around as a revolutionary cry. And they are most often translated to mean, “Seize the day.”
What better banner to fly when taking on the Morning Joy Challenge? The day is ahead, anything could happen. Let’s dive in! But upon closer look, I discovered a clause that qualifies the perspective immensely. Essentially it is, “Seize the day …without concern for the future.” So basically, the idea is to throw all caution to the wind, forgetting all that lies ahead, and to seize the day you have right now.
At first, this idea seemed quite attractive to me, carefree and bold, maverick and fast. But the more I consider it, the more it seems to represent the hamster me, the hamster that has left me breathless (and often joyless.) In seizing the day, and throwing off of the cares of the future, margin and nourishment tend to disappear, because who has time for that?
In this season of paradoxes, I’m learning my requirement for margin and nourishment in order to live joyfully. I can’t throw off the concern for the future, because, even though I may not know what it holds, every day that I have to breathe and to live for Christ matters. Can margin and nourishment co-exist with a love of work and efficiency and productivity? I think it can.
Consider the hummingbird…
Hummingbirds fascinate me. The sweet little creatures that appear out of nowhere and hover as they visit a flower or a feeder in the summertime are incredible examples of God’s creativity and intricate design. The different varieties of this little species offer a vast array of vibrant, iridescent color, which can zip past us with such speed that we almost miss their beauty. But their little wings beat so quickly, expending enough energy that they need to re-fuel every 10-20 minutes throughout the day. When it stops to re-fuel, we can be impacted most by the hummingbird’s loveliness.
Time stands still when a hummingbird approaches a blossom or a feeder. Tiny wings beat so quickly they almost disappear, and the bird seems motionless midair, very present in the moment with the sweet nectar. Its wings move in a figure eight pattern, giving almost equal strength upward as down. And for pausing, becoming still, stopping the frenzy of flight, the little bird is rewarded with sustenance.
This little bird has much wisdom to offer, as it flits from flower to flower, incidentally pollinating as it goes. Because its future energy and strength are so important to it, the hummingbird has learned not to seize the day, but to seize the moment. Though it has important work to do for the life of its ecosystem, over and over again throughout the day, this vibrant creature is intentional about pausing, hovering mid-air to take in necessary nourishment, all of its beauty on display. Strengthened for what lies ahead in the next twenty minutes, it then resumes flight.
Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? (Matthew 6:26)
Seize the Moment
I don’t need to live a life breathless from a frantic pace. I don’t need to strive to the point of exhaustion to win anyone’s approval.Each day is filled with moments for meeting with the Lord again. Click To Tweet
On Sunday, my Pastor reminded us how necessary it is for us to meet daily with the Lord in prayer. He provided us a Prayer Wheel to help us spend meaningful time with God, not getting lost, or feeling like we don’t know how to pray. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been off my game since this move. But I’m invited back by a gracious Father. Strength for the day ahead is available to me in quiet pauses, that are purposeful and sought after. Like the hummingbird, it may just be in these moments of margin and of calm that I might best display the beauty of the Lord.
I’d love for you to share in the comments! What does it look like in your day to day life when you choose to seize the