*Originally written on 12/21/15
Carpe diem. We’ve all heard it before: “seize the day.” Make the most of the time you have. Cherish every moment. But what do all these feel-good phrases mean for Christians? How can we live each minute of our lives in a way that really counts?
I am surrounded by parents, peers, and professors who encourage me to choose a career path, look ahead to the future, and make grand plans. Maybe in a few decades I’ll be able to “change the world” or “become a success.” This Christmas break is the time when, as a senior in high school, everyone is asking about college applications and acceptances and majors. Maybe your Christmas break is all about planning ahead for next year and what big changes or trips or decisions you will make. While that is all good, I think it’s easy to lose focus of the here and now if we resign ourselves to only thinking about the future. Recently God has put on my heart that even if we are young, or even if we’re not exactly as “prepared” as we’d like to be, we can live actively in the world and make an impact for God’s kingdom.
In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul writes, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” These words have reminded me time and time again that no matter what age I am, how many years of education I have completed, or how much money I have made at work, I can and should live completely for God. We should not wait and miss the people and service opportunities that are right in front of us.
Because who knows whether we will have a tomorrow, or whether we will be around next Christmas season? I’ve been reading a book recently on the Christian church in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, a period of horrendous suffering and systematic genocide in the late 1900s. Before the soldiers swept into the cities on April 7, 1975, nobody thought that their lives were about to end. They had just survived a civil war and were expecting peace. But God’s ways are higher than our ways, and we don’t always know what tomorrow will bring. Around 90% of the Cambodian Christians lost their lives in the next decade, and I’m sure more than one of them regretted some of the decisions they had made and the opportunities they had missed during their lifetimes.
My challenge for you today is this: don’t lose focus of the here and now. Don’t miss opportunities to share the gospel or love on someone just because you have “more important things to do.” Don’t ignore relationships or opportunities that you think you can deal with next month. Don’t get lost in our culture’s message that you can only do something worthwhile when you’re older and have more education or more money. It is written in Ephesians 5:16 – “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” This is especially relevant during the Christmas season, when we all see family members we haven't seen in a while and attend parties with those we may not see very often. We may have more free time to spend serving others by volunteering, caroling, visiting, or praying. Just like Esther, you may be in a certain position or situation for such a time as this. So seize the day. Don’t waste your time on meaningless things. Make the most of every opportunity God gives you. That is how to truly live.
Cora Alles is a junior at the University of Kentucky.