To take for granted: 1. To assume you will never lose something. 2. To give little attention to the value of something. 3. To underestimate the worth of something. 4. To fail to appreciate the value or importance of something.
“It is good to be alive. Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the light of the morning sun. Don’t take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour. Even if you live to be a ripe old age, you should try to enjoy each day because you will die and then darkness will come and it will last a long time (you will be dead much longer than you were alive). And after you are dead, you cannot do anything. So, enjoy life while you are young. Be cheerful and happy and relish your youthful vigor. Follow your impulses and do whatever your heart leads you to do. Do whatever you want and find pleasure in what you see. BUT don’t forget that God will judge you and you will have to answer to God and give an account for everything you do in your life.” (Ecclesiastes 11:7-9)
Usually the epiphany of having taken something for granted comes after its already gone. Whether that’s ‘something’ (or someone) I know I’m guilty of taking things for granted. The trouble is, I think I’ve got time. I think that tomorrow will always be there. I think the sun will shine again. But what if I don’t have time? What if tomorrow doesn’t come?
At 42 years
old of age perhaps half of my life has already passed me by. Perhaps more than half. As I read this passage of scripture this morning it raised some important questions: Am I enjoying each day God has given me? Am I loving Him? Am I loving others. Am I loving my life? Am I doing something with this life I have been blessed with? Am I following my heart, pursuing my dreams and finding pleasure in my life? Am I influencing my world? Am I making a difference? Or am I taking all of this for granted?
Author Francis Chan says that “nothing you do in this life will ever matter unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made.”
In the days when my husband and I pastored Bayside Christian Church our mission statement was “Love God, Love people, love life”. I think the heart of what this statement said to me was this: it’s hard to love your life if you don’t love God and you don’t love people.
Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And the second commandment is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently because I find that going to church on Sunday has become all about building and growing “the church” or “God’s Kingdom”. Whilst I understand that the heart of this is about seeing more “souls” saved from an eternity in hell (that’s a good thing!) I think the focus on loving people, because that’s what Jesus did, has been lost. I think some churches have become guilty of thinking that
taking dragging inviting people to church will help them love God. But I don’t think it always works that way. I believe it starts by each person loving people. Seeing the ‘good’ that is inside them. Building a relationship with them. Forming a friendship. Demonstrating a human love that is a reflection of God’s love. And all this starts with the decision to take delight in each sun-filled hour of each day and not take life for granted.
I don’t want to just sit in church every week and be reminded that the church won’t grow if I don’t invite people to church. I want to go to church every week and be encouraged to go out into the world and help those that feel lost, forgotten, hurt, bruised and invisible. I’m not saying God’s called me to be the next Christine Caine and rescue women from the sex slave trade, but I am called to be the reflection of God’s love to the people I see every day. I am called to help people feel nurtured, loved and visible – by God and by me. Because that’s what Jesus did.
I think somewhere along the journey, I’ve gotten sidetracked. I thought God wanted me to sit in church week after week singing songs of praise, worshiping Him and telling Him how wonderful He is. Rather, He has revealed to me that it has to be much more than that and must go much further and deeper. One of the ways for me to love God first is to love what He loves – the people He has made. And then I must love the life He has given me. God wants me to model what Jesus did. Love people. Love my life. Take action. Influence my world. In loving others, I love God. When I participate in making a difference in someone’s life, I demonstrate my love for God. When I do something for someone I show God how much my heart breaks for the things that break His. As I love others, I hopefully show them how much God loves them too.
Maybe, just maybe, by flipping the commandment around this way and loving others (my “neighbours”) this will demonstrate how much I truly love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. Perhaps if I love others as much as I love myself, I will honor the first and greatest commandment.
As I choose to love the people that God has placed in my world, I will also choose to no longer take this life I have been given for granted. I will enjoy the little things in life because one day I know that I will look back and realize that they were the big things.