Column by TJ Laggis, Illustration by Kaitlyn Weiner
A moment. A single moment. In the time it takes for a single breath to escape our lips, we face infinite opportunities. Yet, it seems we are so often entangled in the nostalgia of the past and the ambitions of the future and we forget to remember we are even breathing, right here, right now. Rarely do we find the sensation of stillness. In a society that cries out the cliché, “live in the moment,” we sure are pretty good at finding ways to worry ourselves with thoughts about anything besides the present.
Thankfully, this morning, on a Greyhound bus, while my mind wandered aimlessly through the land of “what ifs,” I met a man. I’m inclined to mention that when I say “met” I mean in the figurative sense. I was flipping through my Bible while trekking North through the Georgia countryside as his words spoke directly to me.
Words transcribed more than 2000 years ago brought peace into the anxieties of a lonely college student in the 21st century. What he said was framed by the span of a single moment, yet years of anguish and distress evaporated by reading just a few lines of scripture.
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?Matthew 6:25-27
The questions struck me. The man seemed to ask so earnestly. Instead of a question that sought an answer, He continued to inquire. Life is going to unravel exactly the way it was intended to, why am I letting myself be consumed by things so far beyond my control? His wisdom was rich, yet he phrased it in a way I could understand and appreciate. But there was more he wished to share with me on the subject, so I read on.
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:28-34
As he spoke, I heard the birds chirp and watched them soar. I saw the flowers beginning to bloom, flooding the barren landscape with color. Jesus, the man who met me on the bus heading North, chose his words and his imagery carefully. He had me resting in the stillness of morning glow. It felt as if I could almost hear him whisper, “I am here to take this burden from you. Just be here with me, in the wonder of this moment.” I looked out the window of the bus and saw just how beautiful the world was. Then the glare of the window caught my reflection and I saw myself within it. Peacefully alive.
Wherever you have the blessing of meeting this man, whether he finds you on the road, in a class, at your job, in your kitchen, at a party, in church, on the highest peak or in the lowest valley, wherever it may be, the message he wants to share with you is the same one he wished to share with me. You don’t have to do this alone. Your Heavenly Father is right here, watching over you. He always has been, and he always will be.
Sometimes it may not always feel like it, though. When our world collapses around us or we’re overwhelmed by the uncertainty of a foggy past and a misty future, we cry out “God why have you abandoned me? Why have you given me more than I could ever bear to carry?”
But he simply responds, “Turn around, my child. See that I am right by your side and know that this weight was never yours to carry all by yourself. Give it to me and in exchange, I will show you peace your heart has been seeking.”
Now, if we’re honest, these moments are rare. More often than not, we all get chewed up and spit out by the world, our thoughts are constantly ambushed by anxieties and worries. We try to undo the past and outdo the future, forgetting the whole time that we are living our lives as we speak.
It’s important to reflect, it’s important to plan but above all it’s important to actually enjoy our lives. We should try to go outside and feel the sunshine on our skin, go enjoy a nice, warm meal and spend some time with the people we love. Maybe spend a little more time with the man I met today, Jesus Christ. If we could string together enough of these moments then in the end, they just might add up to a lifetime. A lifetime, not defined by stress and fear, but with joy and radiance. A lifetime like the one God has promised us.