As a youth pastor, I used to think, “I only have this short window of time, 7 years, if I am lucky, with these students.” Such a brief time in their lives. I felt it was my job to pour into them as much Jesus as possible, before they are gone.
As a chaplain, I recently had the privilege of visiting a man on the other side of life. He had just been given a life ending diagnosis and he expressed to me, “I think I missed the boat with God.” See, he had fond memories of growing up in the church, but life got busy and church, well, it became just that, a fond memory.
We recited the Lord’s prayer together, and it all came back to him, like riding a bike. He sat in silence for a moment, taking himself back to that time in his life where he felt close to God. Breaking the silence, he began to recite the 23 Psalm. He did not miss a word. What he had been taught in his youth had never really left him…
I came back a few days later and as we talked more about his faith, God, and eternity, he asked me to pray with him for his salvation. I watched this man, who had been so anxious, just melt into his hospital bed as his whole body relaxed. What a blessing and a privilege. On a high of my own, I told him I would come back the next day and read Scripture to him.
The next day I got a Bible in anticipation of visiting this man, but first I had a few other patients I needed to see. After lunch, I headed up to see him, thinking about the relationship we had built and looking forward to more precious moments. As I greeted the nurse, she said, “You just missed him, he left 20 minutes ago.” In that moment, I heard God speak to my spirit, “You did what you were supposed to.”
I am rudely awakened to the fact that as a chaplain I no longer have 7 short years – the reality is I may only have a moment with a patient. People come and go daily in the hospital. Some people go home healed, others go home to die; some never make it home. This is the reality of chaplaincy; we must live in and for the moment.
I have come to realize the sacredness of the moments we have with each other, and I do not want to miss a single one. I know the needs of the world can be overwhelming. But the needs of the world are God’s job. We are called to love those God puts in front of us – one at a time, in the moment. These are holy moments, and they matter for eternity.
I can not help but think of Jeremy Camp’s song, “Keep Me in the Moment” as I contemplate this reality. And this becomes my prayer: Lord, keep me in the moment, help me live with my eyes wide open, show me what matters, throw away what I am chasing after, cause I don’t want to miss what you have for me. AMEN.
Take a moment today and be in it. Ask God to show you the holy moments he has for you today.