As I was going through a sort of hard time in my life a little while back, I looked at the world around me, and wondered how people could be smiling and laughing and enjoying life, when my future looked so bleak. I had worked so hard to get to my job and the place where I was. But it turned out I didn’t like that place I was in, and the only way I saw to deal with it was to do just that: deal with it. Get through the days, feeling as little as possible, and trying not to think about my disappointment in the life I was living.
Working in such a secular environment, it puzzled me even further that if I was the one who was a Christian and had the light of Christ inside me, why was it that these people who didn’t know Christ had this ability to enjoy their lives so much more than I felt I was capable of? Well maybe they liked where they were. Or maybe they didn’t. But it is more probable that I was ignoring everything the Bible has ever told me about embracing life for the short time I am in this world.
You see, the Bible calls us to so much more than just getting through every day, like I was doing. We are called by the spirit to live in the moment and participate in life, because we never know what will be coming next, and we have no hope to truly control what does.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” -James 4:14
In my months working for Disney I had become jaded, only examining the part of the Bible that warned about the sins and darkness of the flesh, dwelling in the fall of man and the foreboding end of times. I became so cautious about not conforming to this “ugly” world, that I had become ungrateful for my place in it. I was resisting everything that was in the world, the good and the bad alike. I never looked up to see that there can be good in the world too if you choose to see it. I was a recluse in God’s creation, so disgusted and overwhelmed with the all bad, that I took it upon myself to selfishly stop participating altogether. But what gave me the right to do that? Has God not called us to brave the darkness and plunge through it with light? Has he not called us not to grumble, but praise him in our thankfulness for the lives he has blessed us with? Matthew 5:14-16 says:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Though we are to work hard and sow seeds, God wants us to enjoy the life he has given us. He wants us to delight in the small gifts he has planted for us throughout his creation. Things like the smell of flowers, the shade of trees, the warmth of sunlight on our faces, the taste of food, the beat of music, the touch of our loved ones, the smell of crisp autumn nights, the beauty of colors, the joy of laughter, the patter of rain, falling in love, sunsets, our beating hearts, the glittering night sky, candles, a soft bed. God does miraculous work, but he is also incredibly detail-oriented, and that can be the most miraculous wonder of all! God romances us through our senses daily, and how often does it all go ignored?
He is the source of all that is good and lovely and pure. Every single thing in this world that we call good, anything that is pure and lovely, can only come from him – as he is the only reason goodness exists in our fallen world. Think of how many times a day we say the word “good.” To think that God is the one who gave us every one of these so described things! And we are allowed to enjoy this!
God tells us this! “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” -Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
Wow! With this small, simple delight, this “high on life,” in our hearts, Christians become curious to others. This delight in the small things sets us apart from the crowds and becomes that light in us that makes others desire what we have.
“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” -Psalm 118:24
So, to be amused and truly delighted by the small stuff is, in my opinion, much more of an accomplishment than delighting in big successes, because it employs an attitude of gratitude and a perspective of peace in the Lord. Who wouldn’t be happy with getting a new job, or buying a new car, or getting engaged, or the miraculous healing of a loved one, or securing a raise? But to appreciate life’s small moments – your first waking breath in the morning, your routine drive to work, your morning shower even – takes fine-tuned character and perspective.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” -1 Timothy 6:6-7
Sometimes I find myself so obsessed with planning my life for the coming weeks, that I forget to live in the present life that I likewise planned a few weeks ago, and the vicious circle never ends. That is the quickest way I know to grind your life away! The Bible teaches me to take my hands off and trust.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” –Luke 12:22-26
I have come to the conclusion that when you are truly grateful, only then can you turn trifling moments into little treats of joy. Only then can you have playful fun just for the sake of playful fun in that very moment. Only then can you swallow your pride, laugh along, and engage. Only then can you live in the present, and not the future, because you are so in love with life and God’s blessings, that you feel no need to look forward to the big picture, and risk losing out on what is here and now.
Know that it is okay sometimes to have the heart of a puppy and embrace all the good that is in life. It doesn’t do well to forget to live. So, instead of dwelling in your sufferings, and the places you are not, and the things you do not have, let your heart be light, living in awe. And in your gratitude, you will want to lap up every precious moment of the life the Lord has blessed you with.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16