C.S. Lewis reveals the alternative in Mere Christianity: A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never … commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.
The Christian Case for Carpe Diem
Why seizing today matters.
BY MICHAEL D. GIAMMARINO
A couple of years ago I remember seeing an interesting Pepsi ad. It depicted young people celebrating, socializing, and having a generally great time on what seemed to be a rooftop party. The ad concluded with the campaign’s slogan, “live for now.” The whole thing felt like a promotion for a life of depravity and debauchery—essentially, that one should embrace momentary pleasures with disregard for future consequences.
Commercials like this Pepsi one have long influenced me to think that living for the moment was a bad thing. There couldn’t be a more naturalistic perspective, I thought. Christians are to be the most future-oriented people of all with eyes gazing past death and into eternity, right? What’s more, I found the Church reinforcing this mindset by saturating sermons with encouragements to “Follow your dreams,” and that “Your best days are right ahead of you.” Simply put, I’ve never been exposed to a “live for now” outlook on life that has come from the Christian community.
That is until now, of course.
You see, living for the moment and living wildly do not necessarily go hand in hand. Where the secularists get it wrong is that they conclude something like, “If I live for today, I’ll just pretend I won’t have to deal with the ramifications of my decisions.”
But that’s not how that goes. After all, by putting greater emphasis on the present, wouldn’t someone be more inclined to make better decisions since it would require more focus and time? It is the person who is so future-focused that they neglect the importance of smaller, everyday actions and thus unwittingly damage their future. He is sawing off the branch on which he sits!
C.S. Lewis reveals the alternative in Mere Christianity:
A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never … commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.
Living for today is all that we can do. We can’t live and take action tomorrow because we only exist today. We have no control over tomorrow and we never will. Duty can only be done and grace can only be received today, in this moment.
Today is what we are given. That is all.
After the Lord personally showed me this reality, it ushered in a deep sense of relief followed by conviction. I was relieved because for the first time I felt I didn’t need to strive endlessly in mind and body to make tomorrow turn out the way I hoped. I often became frozen, like a deer in headlights, in deep thought about my future. It was very stressful, to say the least. And that is precisely why I was convicted. I finally understood that the reason I stressed tomorrow so much was pride and control.
I needed to control my future because surely I knew how it should pan out better than God. I couldn’t fully let go of my hopes for tomorrow and place them into His hands. That’s asking a great deal of me! What if He doesn’t come through? Or worse, what if His plans aren’t what I want them to be—what if they aren’t my plans?
But as Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, God’s plans are good! Plans of “hope and a future.”
I also realized that I made an idol of my future. Frequent daydreams of that perfect life drenched my mind. It’s coming soon. Certainly. I thought to myself. I just need to hurry through this scrappy present so I can receive my future. Once I’m there, in my perfect life, I’ll be happy. I hadn’t realized that it was an idol. I did what Lewis advised against: I committed my virtue and happiness to the future.
How often I have neglected the small joys and blessings of everyday life because I was moving too quickly to receive them. I knew little of the irony that in receiving those momentary blessings, the future takes care of itself. It doesn’t work out in spite of a slower paced, live-for-the-moment kind of life. It works out because of it. By embracing today by receiving and giving all you can in it, you are surely setting yourself up for a better tomorrow.
This is no surprise. Jesus Himself told of this simple principle for healthy living:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:33-34
God knows your desires. So just loosen up your death clutch on life and give it to God.
Tomorrow can surely be thought of, hoped for and even planned for. It must certainly be prayed for. But we are nonetheless given today. That is all we have. We’re given this moment and it is our duty to live it out in a way that honors God. He’ll deal with the rest.
MICHAEL D. GIAMMARINO
is the author of Discovering Justice, a book that analyzes the modern concept of justice in light of a historical Judeo-Christian framework. He currently resides in New York City and studies business and theology at Oral Roberts University located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
My wife, Pandora, will tell you I live my life by ticking off lists. When I start a project I generate a list of next actions. When I plan a week I generate a list of possible actions. As I go through a day I check off completed actions and scan the list for the next action to engage. This is not all bad but I am learning it is an incomplete picture of how we should live.
I am learning to take the LONG VIEW. I do not mean thinking about what I want to accomplish or where I want to be in 20 years or some other number of years. Being a time traveler into the future in my head may have a place in our reflection time that is a helpful to visit but it is not what I mean.
The LONG VIEW for me is to recognize that the life I really want to live has to be the fruit of a daily process that is part of my life over the long haul. When I check items off my list they are deleted from my screen. They are done, finished, and I can erase them to make room for the next actions. But long view looks like choosing to walk each day holding hands with my best friend, Jesus. The LONG VIEW is to see a listening, engaging, trusting, and loving interaction with Jesus as the center of every day of my life and I would not ever want to complete it or check it off.
When I take the long view on any loving relationship it changes. Marriage, Parenting, Grand-parenting, and Friendships are made vibrant by viewing what is done today to be in relationship as deepening the connection we will enjoy tomorrow and all tomorrows God gives us. I do not want life to just be checking off my devotions or taking my wife out for dinner. Life has a center, a solid stable place to live out our life by being connected to Jesus at its center and constant reality.
How do you live with the LONG VIEW?
John 16: 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. . .
Just below the surface of my life I can be wrestling with several agendas…
Follow Jesus and no turning back or falling away,
Live for a safe, comfortable life,
Avoid pain or rejection,
Preserve the current reality and refuse to go into the future. . .
these and many more conflicting life ambitions and motives simmer like pots on a stove competing for my attention.
Don’t be surprised that God will engineer circumstances to expose the confusion I am tolerating. It requires faith, mixed with courage, and the strength of the Spirit to put a knife in the throat of any goal — save one — STAY WITH JESUS.
Oswald Chambers, MY UPMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, April 4
We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. . .
But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. . . .
“. . . you . . . will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us?”
Luke 19: 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Notice in verse 41 Jesus concern for they could have known that would given them peace and in verse 44 what they failed to know that forfeited their peace.
When I think I am walking with God I can be deceiving myself. Like the people Jesus weeps over on what the church calls “Palm Sunday” we can totally miss what God is doing. The King had come among them and they were too busy doing business and evaluating what was occurring by how it impacted their agenda. Pride is a blindness that comes from lies I am believing. Pride makes God weep because of what is missed, lost and ignored of God’s working around us. Pride pulls patches over the eyes of our heart and makes us stumble right into the hands of our enemies.
What happens right after Jesus’ tears? He upsets the polluting of the temple grounds and calls the people back to God’s mission. How did the spiritual leaders respond to the confrontation and teaching? They were plotting for how they could kill the God – Man King.
What is blinding me?
How is pride making me miss God’s work in my life?
Jesus weeps because the people were responsible for their choices and would harvest a terrible loss.
(Much thanks to Oswald Chambers MY UPMOST… April 3 reading) Quotes from his reading that stirred my reflection —
What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in this your day”?. . .Do you have a strange god—not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? . . . I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes. . . . These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been!. . . Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.
Every life-giving leader needs people around them as sources of encouragement, advice, and support. The broad term covering all the types of relationship and assistance God provides is GUIDES. This is a good term because our life is a journey.
A Travel AGENT sales you a ticket and helps book lodging from their desk using a phone and computer.
A Travel GUIDE has navigated similar journeys and takes the journey with you. Guides provide various ways of shifting or enhancing your perspective.
- The GUIDE uses their experience to provide direction in the journey you are making when you do not know the best way or really any way to move toward the destination.
- A GUIDE helps you see the journey including the attractions and the obstacles through their eyes of confidence and endurance when you are overwhelmed or fearful.
- The GUIDE shares their love for the foods, and other unique elements of the journey and you find your values shift and your level of appreciation moves from the MYSTERIOUS UNKNOWN to DIFFERENT, to APPRECIATING THE DIVERSITY.
Examples of assistance provided by GUIDES:
- Understanding of biblical truth — the ministry of teaching
- Revealing blind spots so the leader has more accurate perception and self-awareness — the ministry of discernment
- Challenge – calling out for courageous faith — the ministry of clarifying
- Confrontation – probing with questions to expose sinful motives and to call for repentance – the ministry of correction.
- Being a sounding board for processing options at a crossroads moment of decision – the ministry of listening
- Pointing out and affirming giftedness, skills, talents, and abilities that can be developed with focused coaching and practice – The ministry of development
- Lifting up the tired spirit with caring compassionate truth – the ministry of encouragement
And many more….
WHO ARE YOUR GUIDES GOD HAS GIVEN?
ARE YOU INTENTIONALLY RECEIVING THE OFFERINGS THEY PROVIDE?
ARE YOU PRAYING FOR GUIDES TO FILL THE HOLES WHEN SOME OF YOUR GUIDES ARE PROMOTED TO HEAVEN OR ARE OUT OF REACH?
This post is in honor of my friend of 39 years who recently had his prayer answered and made it to his home in heaven. I miss him deeply.
It was 1980. I was working two doors down from President McQuilkin directing Financial Aid and helping to begin what would become the Development Department. I was also a part time seminary student. So at the busiest season of the terms I would go home for dinner and then return for an evening of study and catching up on files and work in the office.
It was close to midnight and I was working away on financial aid files and listening to the newest music by Bob Dylan. Slow Train Coming (1979) and Saved (1980) were strong gospel albums that had Dylan booed off the stage at some of his concerts. I loved them!
( I still listen to them weekly as I exercise)
What I did not know at the time was that Robertson had come by the office also. Years later he told me that as he started down the dark hall and heard Dylan booming in the building he was all prepared to speak a word of correction to the custodial help. Instead it was one of his new hires; a young man he was sure loved Jesus. But how could he be listening to that rock and roll racket?
When I saw him stick his head in the doorway I immediately turned the volume down and explained that Bob Dylan was giving a clear testimony in his music. I asked him if he would like to borrow the albums and check it out. He said he would. So the next day I loaned them to him.
About a week later he returned the albums and I will never forget his words. “Well, you can’t read those lyrics and not believe Bob knows the Gospel thoroughly. It is just a shame that when God saved him he didn’t heal his voice.” And then he gave me his classic grin.
Robertson modeled for me a man willing to suspend a judgmental spirit and listen and learn even when what he encountered what was not part of his preferences or culture.
Lord, Help me to do the same.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have a humorous memory with Robertson? Comment below!
In Robertson’s writings and often in his speaking he would address how Christians speak about others. His thoughts seem even more relevant is a world where many feel entitled to say anything about anyone through social media.
I have consulted with multiple congregations in the past 10 years split into painful division because of e-mails being forwarded beyond the original intended author. I have a significant section of material on the Biblical teaching on conflict resolution in my book Life Giving Leadership if you want more assistance in handling the friction that will surely come living in this broken world.
Here I will just paraphrase the experience he shared from his early days as a missionary in Japan.
We were the new missionaries and the more experienced couple had come to dinner to welcome us. It turned into a painful evening of them “helping us” by pointing out failures and weaknesses of all of the other missionaries. They left that evening with a date for another dinner being set and I was not looking forward to another evening of roasting the coworkers we were just meeting.
Muriel assured me she would make sure the next evening’s conversation went differently. Our home had a large wall with no pictures on it. She made a small cross stitch and hung it on the wall. They arrived and noticed the new addition to our decor. The wife walked over, read it, and then called her husband over to read it. (Robertson paused like a good stand up comedian and then said), It was one the quietest dinners we had ever had.
Are the absent safe with you?
Personally I believe Facebook is for sharing photos of my grandbabies and maybe a few vacation photos but I seek to remember in this blog, and all of my online world, that Jesus is present and reading my posts. Social media is just a typed conversation — and the Bible has a great deal to say about how God’s children are to use words.
Bottom Line — if you have a problem with someone — go to them — face to face if possible (not your facebook) — or in as private conversation as possible.
Any subject causing your emotional heat to go UP or your trust in a person or organization to go DOWN — take your concern TO them not to the world online.