I’ve been asking God these days to help me to distinguish between great and small events – for my morning as well as for my life. With all that is going around me and all that is going on within me, this feels like an important question. It was Winston Churchill who said, “When a man cannot distinguish a great from a small event, he is of no use.”
Is catching up on my e-mail backlog a great or a small event? It’s great as far as the size of the task, but is it what is needed in this moment? Or how about that person I’ve been thinking I need to call for the past two weeks – great or small? What about that book that just came to mind that I never finished reading? Or the errands I could run this day?
Distinguishing between a great and small event is not simply about good time-management skills. Rather, it is about being orientated, tuned in, living transcendently – with the belief that there is more going on than I am currently aware of and the story I am living in is bigger than myself.
I was reading Eph. 5:15-17; “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
There is a lot at stake these days, everything from the global economy, to the elections, to our families, to the person who is just about to give up out of despair and can be rescued with a word. A friend of mine just sent me a quote by Francis Frangipane, “Rescue is the constant pattern of God’s Activity.” God is up to rescuing, healing the brokenhearted and setting captives free, and we are to be a display of his splendor (Isa. 61). So, there is more going on than we have ever imagined and the way we live is more consequential than we may have been told.
I want to live wisely, I want to understand the purpose of my life in this moment and offer what I have been given to offer.
When Paul says that we are to make the most of our time he is not saying that efficiency, thoroughness or precision is needed. He is implying something more difficult, more adventurous, something that will require much more of our heart and our walk with God – understanding the meaning of the present moment, — distinguishing our own great from small events.
I am coming to a deeper understanding that I can’t simply live at the level of getting stuff done each day. And, that what may appear to me to be a minor, inconsequential task may actually be a rescue in the true scheme of things.
So, I must ask God throughout the day, what is the meaning of this moment, what are the great events, is there someone You want me to offer to, or are You offering something to me that I need right now?
The Amplified Bible translates this verse as, “Live purposefully & worthily & accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise — sensible, intelligent people; making the very most of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague & thoughtless & foolish, but understanding & firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”
Walking wisely with you,
Always helpful. Thank you, Gary.
Mark, your welcome.
Right on target. Busyness and to-do lists so often define our sense of accomplishment. Check this off and you feel like you’ve done something. So many times I look back on my days and realize how little was actually done for the kingdom on my part. What did filing those papers do? Why was that more important to me than spending an extra moment or two with a customer to discuss their needs? Living at that level gets to be so petty and monotonous… we miss the grand picture of what’s really happening around us.
Thanks for these truths Gary!
Good words Jared. Thank you.
Good morning, Gary. Your blog entry today set in heavily as I read it. I am 9 months into freedom and recovery from a twelve year addiction that just about ruined my life and that of my family. A big part of my recovery process has been allowing the Father to (1) love on me and (2) draw me into his world showing me what he sees “out there” and what he sees in me. A vision of who I am becoming has returned, except this time its a true vision rather than one colored by own hand.
What’s important in this moment? I am reminded of a scripture I was studying last week when trying to hear some new nuances to “sonship”. I saw Jesus explaining to the Pharisees a little about what its like to operate as a True Son of the True Father. He said in John 8:38 that he was telling them “what I have seen in my Father’s presence.”
I am learning that what’s important in this moment comes out of the core knowledge of what I am becoming and what I see when the Father and I are together. So, what I do and what I say are what I see in the ‘Father’s presence’.
There is more here, and we’ve only scratched the surface. I want more. MUCH more.
Mark, I really like “in the Father’s presence”! I want much more as well. I love that you are “9 months into freedom and recovery”. That thrills my heart.
“I am learning that what’s important in this moment comes out of the core knowledge of what I am becoming and what I see when the Father and I are together.”
Thanks for this excellent statement. This seems to bring relevance also to what I see when conversing with Jesus. I see the preciousness of who I am — but at the same time, a sharpened focus on the needs that God wants me to attend to in specific others! He shows me where my true heart is for the service of others.
Today finds me running around getting lost in an ever-growing to-do list as I prepare to head back for work overseas. “What’s Important in this Moment?” was the answer to my prayers from earlier today. Just like a key in a lock, what you wrote was a perfect fit, for what I was focused on and praying about this morning.
Awesome is an overused word these days. However, it would be an understatement to say that the work of the Holy Spirit in you and your writing was awesome from this humble perspective. Thanks so very, very much!
Pete, you are always a true encouragement to me – with your words and heart. Thank you. In the moment with you.
Gary, here is another man challenged again by what God is doing in you (and for us). This is right to the point of my “Transcendent Pursuit” for 2012….taking my intimacy with God that I experinece in the morning into my daly activities. It is such a challenge for me to remember to stop duringt the day and ask God what is really going on…like why my wifes car broke this week in the midst of our financial struggle? Thanks Gary
Randy, I’m inspired by your determination with your Transcendent Pursuit for 2012.
Great post Gary. I know it is easy to get caught in the trap of doing what seems to be important, but usually for me it is the easy way out. Doing something of significance is scary, because we recognize that we are not the ones who are in control of it’s outcome. Keep writing brother!
I’m in this with you brother.
Wow…. it was a great decision for me to read this. i too have been trying to “live in the moment”…..this really helps with that struggle. Awesome and Thank you.
Rick, you are welcome.
Once again a timely post. It is amazing how our God could use you to reach us. Even walking in the message it is easy to get caught up in the small moments, and later look back at past great moments. Divine encounters with and for God that slip by semmingly unnoticed while we busy ourselves in our own perceived ‘great’ moments. We get our sense of accomplishment from the victories in our small moments and miss out on the gain of taking time to see the great ones.
Thanks for reminding us to take time and focus on those true great moments.
Definitely forwarding this post to my small band of brothers.
Mike, I like your thought: “We get our sense of accomplishment from the victories in our small moments and miss out on the gain of taking time to see the great ones.” Thanks.
Good stuff. I feel like I can easily see the small and great moments, but what nags at me is this constant sense of “Is it ‘Okay’ to let this go, or ‘Okay’ to make that a priority?” It is rare to see people live like this – Christians included – and I have to be careful I don’t compare myself or I find myself questioning more about the life God has for me than I need to.
Yvette, you’re right – comparison is a killer, especially in the realm of “getting things done.” It’s easy for me to compare myself to someone else with the question, “am I doing enough” or “am I working hard enough” or “is my work as significant or weighty as that other person’s”. And your right, that’s never the issue. Thanks Yvette.
You have a great sense of whats important,that’s why you are doing what you’re doing,Gary.Winston Churchill had a lot of gems,for me,this isn’t one of them,almost any quote that ends with “you’re useless” is the tip off, and I think that unfinished book has a lot more to do with the book,than you.
The load this world tries to throw on us is unbearable especially if you’re trying to live differently (better).John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The load that the world throws on me seems to come from the people closest to me.
Such good words.Our daughter is serving in Guatemala right now, and when she gets homesick, or bored, I remind her to ‘be present’, and not wish to be somewhere else…which is something I need to keep reminding myself, to be intentionally mindful. Thanks for writing.
it’s interesting to me how often the answer the “What’s important right now?” is “Something beside myself.” 🙂
“So, I must ask God throughout the day, what is the meaning of this moment, what are the great events, is there someone You want me to offer to, or are You offering something to me that I need right now?”
All through the years, I’ve always noticed that it was the “moments” that most captured me, not the humdrum of what people tend to think of as important or practical.
My most important relationships always sprang from asking what God wants me to offer right now. That’s so important to ask in a time when I really don’t know what the bigger picture is (though hopefully I’ll find out by noticing what God brings to my attention at many given moments).
I recently missed God’s prompting about a great event. I felt the promptings from the Spirit of God, but put them off in favor of the more urgent tasks before me. I missed the window God had given me and a man is suffering.
It is impossible for us to identify the important from the trivial. Which impacts the Kingdom more: helping my son repair his bike, reading that book I got from Noble Heart, writing a letter to my brother in prison, or cleaning out the garage? If God has a divine appointment at Starbucks, then taking my book and heading there is the most important.
Hearing and obeying is the only way to do this. Thanks, Gary.