True stories of ordinary individuals who took a defining moment and made extraordinary contributions
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One More Serving.
It is difficult to even fathom that an act that we have yet to experience today may have a consequence in our lives tomorrow. It is beyond our imagination to even think that a person who we know nothing about, not even about their existence at this minute may make a significant difference in our lives. We have no clue who we will meet in the future, no assurance that our lives will turn out like we planned. Our money, fame, health, status, education and background provide no guarantees that we can reach a destination we set out to reach or that we can stop calamities that we set out to avoid. Our next moment DOES NOT DEPEND ON US. The only thing that depends on us is our decision in that moment. Do we order the chicken or the fish? Do we smile or look away? Do we make the call or fail to follow through? Do we go for the yard or punt? Do we tell the truth or lie? Intervene or ignore? Step on the gas or the brake? Ignite the fire or put it out? Stay or leave? Betray or honor? Hold on or let go? Permit or deny?
All human plans are at the divine mercy of what will be.
Every second of our life is unknown. By the time I type this next sentence, someone’s life will have been changed dramatically by those few seconds. Perhaps it will be because in those seconds, a child will be conceived, or a victim assaulted. The next second could deliver the final number someone needs on a lottery ticket or the first time someone hears “I love you”. In moments, an accident could change everything, the signature could make it final, the judge can determine the sentence, the bullet can pierce the skin, the smile can make the difference, the casket can be lowered, the veil can be raised, the house can go up in flames, the stock market can crash, the ethics can be lost, the hand can be outstretched, the knife can stab, the values can be compromised, the lightening can strike, the diagnosis can be given, the “I do’s” can be said, the landmine can explode, the final out can end the game, the fetus can be aborted, the praise can be sung, the divorce can be final, the car can cross the yellow line, the wrist can be sliced, the peace treaty signed, the football sail over the goal post and the values go over the line.
We spend a lifetime planning what we might do, who we might spend it with, where we might live, what we might have. We insure, invest, warranty and bond, but we still cannot control the next moment. We can plan for it with about as much confidence as two undefeated teams entering a title game knowing only one can win. Planning for what happens in the blink of an eye, and what really happens in the blink of an eye are two very different things. The winning team planned to win, but the team that lost did not plan to lose, so…what happened?
In God’s eyes, every second is planned but in our hearts the choice of how we experience them is decided. God does not choose one of us to kill and one to be killed or one of us to save and
one to be abandoned. He does not decide one of us should become a drug addict any more than He determines one of us should stay clean. God does not whisk some of his offspring to live a life behind bars while to others He allows limitless freedom. He plans each second. We decide how to respond. He gives us the moment and we choose how to fill it. He provides a door and we choose to open or close it. He does have a plan. We do have a choice. It is all planned for us but it is not all decided for us. He allows us to have a recipe. We can choose whether we elect to put in the correct ingredients or take a chance that the finished product might turn out less than what we hoped for if we substitute what was in that recipe with whatever we brought to the table.
Kahil Gibran said, “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
We often forget that we do not decide tomorrow but only now. We can make choices that appear to lead to some type of decisions about our future, our careers, relationships, health, finances but we make the choices now. We cannot know what we will do or what will happen in the future anymore than we be certain of what type of weather we will have next week. We can plan for rain because it was predicted but even the weatherman cannot make it so. We can choose with whom we would like to have a relationship and the depth of that relationship. We can choose what career path to follow, what to study, where to live, how to spend our recreational time, what skills to perfect, what to let go of and what to keep but we make that decision in the present. Perhaps that is why when a circumstance, an event, a person or experience comes along at some point in the future and changes what we thought might be, we comment, “This wasn’t at all what I planned!” We are still surprised that the moments beyond the now are not ours to plan. We imagine control we will and should never have.
Is it possible there is a moment that is given to us that we might never choose and yet it might be a turning point for something larger than we could know? Do we sometimes not realize what impact a moment had until sometime in the future whenever we recall a choice we made, a decision we ignored, a commitment we kept or an opportunity that we avoided? Are defining moments always obvious or are they more apt to be spontaneous occurrences that only develop their definition after a time of reflection? Are our platters so full that we cannot even find the morsel that we relish? Have we simply forgotten how to make the most of this moment because we cannot even locate it amid our already over-scheduled day planners? Have we lost the now and what we really should be doing because we are so concerned about the tomorrow that we can do absolutely nothing about?
A rich man is as helpless as one in poverty to grab onto a moment of time and keep it. Time is the one constant that knows no prejudice. No one really has any more or any less of it. Our circumstances may make it seem so, but the same hours are in my day as in the day of one imprisoned, one retired, one dying, and one who has just been born. Unlike any of our other resources, time is unable to be held, stopped, maintained or reproduced synthetically. Time is precious. It is so precious that it is only given to us moment by moment, one second after
another. We do not get all sixty seconds of a minute at once. We wait for each one and while getting one, wait on the next, so fleeting we cannot hold both seconds at the same time, but so exceptional that we cannot have even one moment gone, back again. We want so much to make an impact on our futures when what we do right now has the most critical impact on the next moment. If we could only get passed wanted to ‘fill up’ on the emptiness of the unknown and learn to savor the morsel of the moment whether bitter or sweet, how much more we would be filled with that would make all the difference in the future that we can’t determine by more than what we choose right here, right now.
You can make choices and decisions but plans are the Lord’s to make.
Often we get so anxious about what the future holds or what we have or have not accomplished yet and we forget that it is the moment we have in front of us that we are asked to accept. We often regard that moment as trivia because it seems so fleeting but ask anyone who has had a defining moment about the one that changed their life and they will tell their story from a perspective that begins with,
“When I realized...”
“In that split second…”
“A moment later…”
“In a flash…”
“All of the sudden…”
“The next thing I knew…”
“Just like that…”
“At the blink of an eye…”