by Wendy VanWingerden, Guest Writer
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.
Early one morning during a family vacation, I walked along the ocean as the others slept in. The waves crashed on the sand, the sandpipers ran back and forth with the ebb and flow of the tide. The breeze was cool as the pinnacle of summer had not yet been reached. It is a place that my soul finds rest, to walk along the shoreline, to feel the gentle breeze of salty air, to behold an ocean that surpasses my comprehension. I take long, deep breaths as I soak those moments in. Although I have always loved the ocean, it was the year after Ashley died that drew me to the unknown depths, to the great expanse, to the place that went beyond what I could see.
I spent my days meeting the needs of those around me, constantly neglecting my own. It was a desperate attempt to extract myself from daily living, to bury myself, to avoid God. But now, I needed to feel sand under my feet, sun on my skin, and solitude. I needed to talk to God, who seemed so far away. I needed to feel lost among the grains of sand and to sit before an ocean that would soon teach me more about God than ever before. That first trip alone, seven months after losing Ashley, is when my friendship with the ocean and my deep longing to be there began. I continue to return for more of those moments, for more time, more solitude, more talking with God, more lessons, more inspiration.
Lifting a handful of sand from under my feet, I watched as it slipped through my fingers finding its place among the multitude of grains of sand along the shore. I could never again hold that same handful of sand. The words of an old song rushed into my mind.:
We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment to live.
This very moment in time will never come again in just the same way. I have THIS moment to live! Not yesterday’s moment, not tomorrows, or even later today. THIS moment is what I hold. I must hold it, touch it, admire it, feel it, enjoy it, LIVE IT.
Ten years ago, my fourth child was born. I was one busy momma and needed this message. So often wishing for the next stage, pushing ahead, I needed to be reminded to hold each moment and enjoy each moment. I spent many days looking forward to what was to come. A year later, time stood still. I became a parent of only three children. The moments of the past taunted me. I wanted them back, but I couldn’t have them. I regretted so much, I wanted to change them, but they were fixed in time. I hated the current moments and I wanted to erase them. I dreaded the moments and days before me, fully believing they would soon end. God would soon come. The embrace of the moment changed from that of making the most of it, to the survival of one moment at a time.
Nine years has been an evolution of moment holding. I had been worried about the days to come. I had been regretting things of the past that could not be undone. I no longer need to survive one moment at a time. That day on the beach, I was thankful for the reminder that it is ok to stay in the moment, however I got there. What a relief it was for me to release yesterday’s moments and stop searching for tomorrows. I found some freedom that day on the beach as I felt the sand fall between my fingers. Attempting to face the burden of tomorrow – today - only produced a fear and anxiety that troubled my soul. It stole my ability to enjoy each moment. Matthew 6:34 encourages us:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.
Not only am I encouraged that I don’t need to worry about tomorrow because God has promised me that He holds tomorrow, but I am also comforted to know that if the moments of today are not moments to enjoy and admire, God knows that too! He knows each day has trouble of its own! I may not spend time “enjoying” each moment. I may be using all my strength or lay limp through difficult moments. God knows that! He equips us for it! Proverbs 31:25 encourages me:
She is clothed with strength and dignity: she can laugh at the days to come.
Not only has God promised to hold the moments of tomorrow, He has also promised to clothe me with the strength I need.
I was asked to fill in this blank…“Because God lives, I can…” My immediate response is “I can live today!” God loosened my grip on tomorrow’s troubles when my daughter Ashley died suddenly. I didn’t choose to let go, He unwrapped my clenched fingers, one by one. Some days I pray:
Dear Lord, please help me to place my trust in You each day. Thank you for holding the past and the future in Your hands. Thank you for the freedom I have in Your promises. Help me to treasure each moment, both the good and the bad ones, knowing that You hold the future. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for living so that I too, may live!
I have come to a place of peace as I trust God to hold what I don’t need to hold anyway.
Often when I feel that peace slipping away, words to another song come to mind:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone.
Let these words encourage you today to live in this moment, just this one moment. Embrace it. Hold it in your hand. Touch it, even if it hurts. When Jesus lives in you, He clothes you in strength and you can laugh at the days to come! Enjoy this freedom because Christ Lives!
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “Sex Trafficking: I Am Not For Sale! A Conversation with Edie Rhea" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Edie’s father died when she was four years old so when her mother brought a new man into her home, she welcomed him as her father. When she was nine years old, this man began regularly raping her in her home. By the time she was twelve, he was taking her to hotel rooms where he trafficked her to men and women for the purpose of sex until she was seventeen. How does a child recover from such monstrous treatment? Edie’s story offers help and hope to anyone who has been sexually abused and shines a light on the spreading horror of sex trafficking in the United States. She offers people who work with children suggestions on how to spot a child who is being abused and how to help them. This compelling story uncovers a devastating dark side of humanity but also is a message of help and hope for hurting people.
Wendy VanWingerden and her husband Jake live on a farm with their children where they operate a large commercial greenhouse, supplying many local garden centers with annual bedding plants. Though trained as registered nurse, Wendy spends the majority of her days as a wife, mom and caring for her 14 goats, a donkey and too many chickens to count. She enjoys gardening, canning, freezing and baking, especially family favorites.
Wendy says, My husband and I were blessed with 4 beautiful children. 3 girls and one boy. Grace is 10, Emma 13, and Jacob is 17. Ashley, who would be 20 now, is the reason I am writing for you this week. She crowned me with the gift of motherhood, and her absence from this world breaks my heart every day. Ashley was taken into glory on July 24, 2009. Life didn't go as I planned, but I live every day forward trusting that God knows the plans, and he has promised to go before me.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.