As I look back on the year 2017, God’s faithfulness in my life is so evident. In retrospect, I can easily trace His steadfastness and sovereignty. But I have to admit that if I were to go back and take a look at my heart attitude in each day, I would probably find myself either stressing about some upcoming event or wishing that I could fast forward to some day in the future.
The challenge to be present
Going into the year 2018, God has placed the word “present” on my heart. I believe that God wants me to be present in every moment that I find myself. I find that I struggle with becoming so focused on my agenda and the task in front of me that I’m unaware of what’s going on in the lives of people around me. My tunnel vision doesn’t allow me to see that maybe God has called me to something different than what I thought my plan was for that day.
I can speak from experience when I tell you that stressing out makes us focus on ourselves. My family can testify to the fact that in the times that I’m the most stressed, I’m the least concerned about others. When I have a performance coming up or three exams in one day, I become completely consumed in my own agenda, my own desires, and my own fears.
Every stress can lead us to be so absorbed in our fear of the future that we are not truly living in the moment. Our hearts and minds are so consumed that we can neglect the relationships we have with those around us. How different would our lives be if we reoriented our attitudes to be others-centered?
Everyone around us has a story
As believers, we are called to servanthood in our relationships. How can we serve each other in love if we aren’t aware of their stories?
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity… (Ephesians 5:15-16)”
This challenges me to set aside my agenda with the desire to be intentional in the way that I serve my friends and family.
It’s easier said than done to just stop stressing out about your own agenda. Being present in each moment requires us to surrender our fears to God day by day.
“Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).”
Make the most of every opportunity
As a freshman in college, I recently finished my first ever week of finals. And let me tell you, it was as bad as they talked it up to be! In the weeks leading up to finals, I was easily overwhelmed whenever I thought of the list of things that I needed to do. It seemed like it was a mile long! But in the middle of my stressing out, I came to the realization that I just needed to take it one day at a time, just like verse 34 of Matthew 6 says. When I did this, I started seeing what was going on in other people’s lives and what they were facing. I got to know them in a deeper way when I asked questions about their lives. My prayer is that I will be able to continue this and share the love of Christ with my fellow students who may not know Him.
If we surrender our fears and stresses to God day by day, we can be present in the moment instead of adding to that mile long agenda. When we submit to God and trust Him, we are released from the self-absorption that comes along with holding on to our fears. This is when we are free to invest in others and be a presence in their lives.
As we kick off the year 2018, my prayer is that God will help me to seize each moment. I’m praying that He will help me to be others-oriented. Join me in asking the Lord to help us “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16), lay aside our agendas, and serve others in love.