Some time ago, I walked upon a beach, breathed upon by soft darkness, draped in the glimmer of an infinity of stars, touched by the wet sand beneath my feet, and in the company of a young lady whose compassion and friendship has blessed me immensely.
I felt the Lord's presence as I have only rarely felt it before.
And for half a moment, I felt a twinge of alarm.
What if this sense of joy that I felt surging in my chest was momentary? What if something horrible was going to happen later that would make all this happiness seem like a lure into a sense of false security? Did I have a right to be so happy?
In the past, those thoughts have intruded like poison upon the most precious moments. That day, I stomped on them.
I was happy. I had this beautiful evening, my encouraging friend, my amazing God. I had every right and reason to be happy.
So I thanked my Father for His abundant and overflowing love.
No matter what the future held, this moment was a gift.
The test came again and again.
When some new understanding of God brought me to my knees with wonder at His overflowing love.
When the company and kindness of a good friend blessed and encouraged me.
When I arrived home from work with a sense of accomplishment.
When my body recovered the ability and strength to do things I had not done in years--or ever before.
When I held a friend's newborn baby in my arms.
When I had those wonderful moments deep in nature's cathedral, reveling in the beauty of my Father's world.
What if God gave only to take away? What if this bright season was all too short? What if by allowing myself to enjoy this moment I ensured greater disappointment when inevitable seasons of trial began?
What if? What if? What if?
Recently, I joined a number of young adults on an overnight camping trip at a site with a stunning view. After a brisk hike and a campfire supper, we unrolled our sleeping bags and stared up at the stars--thousands and thousands of stars, like a necklace of light across the sky. (I call it "God's bling.")
The wind rippled over the skin of my face, the lights in the valley below us mirrored the lights of the heavens, and the soft sleepy breathing of my nearby friends wrapped me in a cocoon of silent fellowship.
It was one of those perfect moments.
How did I come to be so blessed? What made my Father so generous and loving, to give me such golden experiences? If this moment was so beautiful, what was Heaven like?
I embraced the moment.
I knew the future held pain; all futures on earth do. I also knew that the future held joy; the Lord has promised good things for those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:3-7). With my God as Lord in both pain and the joy, there is no shrinking from the future. Both pain and joy are gifts from His hand, and I trust His guidance.
Thus I can love each moment for what it is.
Thank you, Father, for Your many gifts.
Thank you for the trouble that reminds me that my peace and rest is not a product of circumstances, but a result of trusting You (Philippians 4:6-8). Thank you for the treasured moments that remind me that You give above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
In the moment when You walk me through trouble, I will praise You for Your constant presence.
In the moment when You overflow my heart with delight, I will praise You for your abundant generosity.
I will take each moment as a gift from Your hand and praise You always.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.