the smurf

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When was the last time you woke up telling yourself that you were about to have the best day of your life? I watched a podcast last night that inspired me to try it this morning and, let me tell you, that was the most uninspiring get-out-of-bed speech that’s ever been spoken. And I’m what most would consider a morning person. I took my dog out to pee as per usual and then came back inside to change into my workout gear. Normally I just do a few little things in my living room, but this time, I forced myself out on a 3-mile run to begin this “best day ever” with a BANG.

It was okay, I guess.

It was muggy; my back was sore from the moment I woke up; and it took me twice as long to stop sweating (even with a cold shower) than the actual workout took.

The honest truth is that I’ve slipped into “time-kill” mode. Been there for a while now, actually. If someone gave me the option to fast forward even three days into the future, I would strongly consider it because that’s when I’m supposed to close on my first house. And that’s definitely not the only factor making the future seem a whole lot more exciting than the present. I’m traveling to New Mexico and Uganda this summer on short term mission trips. I’m single. I’m a “Timothy” in the ministry field. Oh, and I have a five-month-old puppy.

It’s pretty easy to slip into the mindset that my best days are well ahead of me, and that my current life consists of mostly throw-away days until I get there. I only need to wait around for my real life to start. When I’m all moved into my house and starting sketches on what my back patio will look like. When I’m away from home this summer being completely transformed by the faith and love I see from those living in abject poverty. When I’m married with kids on the way. When I have a long tenure of credibility in a faithful ministry. When this crazy puppy no longer has the energy of the Tasmanian Devil and starts actually listening to me.

We live in a culture where we are constantly told that what we have isn’t enough and where we are in life isn’t worthwhile compared to what’s coming. We’re led to believe the grand parade of life isn’t really a parade until we see a giant blue Smurf floating by, and that he’s just around the corner. Maybe I’m just at that stage in my life where the vast majority of my Facebook friends are getting married and having babies, but advertisers make their money on making us long for something beyond us. It might be subliminal, but we tend to think of our lives with the mindset of, “Just wait until ________.”

Just wait until I get that promotion. Then I’ll have more respect, influence, and of course, more money. Just wait until I find the person I’ll spend the rest of my life with. Until I find my dream job. Until I get myself back in shape. Until I buy that thing I’ve been saving up for. Then! Then I’ll really be living!

But until “then,” we’re waiting. Each day that passes is treated like a tally mark that represents nothing but one less day on our approach to futuristic goals. The day begins and we actually think of ways we can make it pass by faster so we can get to the future sooner. If we’re lucky, there’s a physical day to set our sights on. At the moment for me, that’s Monday when I close on my house and get the keys. But then what? Based on past experience, I’m going to guess I still won’t see what’s-his-name, the Smurf, floating by.

I’m afraid to think about how much “living” I’ve squandered while waiting to “start” my life. It’s amazing to run through the list of some of the “Just wait until…” goals that I’ve already accomplished in my life. Somehow, I’ve forgotten they ever had any meaning to begin with because that stupid Smurf is still nowhere to be seen.

Just to name a few, I’ve achieved my first goatee, gotten my driver’s license (which, yes, came after the goatee… I was the cool middle schooler with facial hair). I’ve been elected as captain and MVP of my sport, earned a scholarship, graduated college, traveled the world, started a business, and published a book. Yet somehow, as soon as I checked each goal off my list, the world immediately devalued its accomplishment and replaced it with a new thing to wait for, a new corner to round before the Smurf would appear, leaving me feeling just as incomplete as I felt before that awesome goatee patched itself onto my face.

There’s a gift that the world we live in will do just about anything to keep us from recognizing. It’s what Satan will cover up with any desire, insecurity, or fear he can get his hands on. What is that gift? It’s this very moment. It’s the understanding that Smurfs aren’t real and that we have been standing on the curb watching an amazing parade pass by.

Satan wants us to keep waiting for the best part of our lives to start. But God wants us to see every breath we breathe as a gift, as an opportunity. If He is God, then the possibilities for what He can do in and through us (exactly as we are and where we are right now) are infinite.

The tomorrow we are waiting for is not guaranteed. Just like that promotion is a phone call away, so is cancer. We’re not even guaranteed to survive our next commute to work, yet we insist on waiting to start living our lives until next week, or next year, or until we find that person who’s walking around with a constant spotlight shining on their head and a fan blowing through their hair.

Each day, no matter how drab or meaningless it seems in comparison to others (especially when the alarm first goes off), is an opportunity to intentionally pursue that greatest commandment Jesus highlighted for us: to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths (Mark 12:30). This is the pursuit that brings the only lasting meaning to our existence, making each day the best day of our lives simply because Jesus still died for our sins and we have breath in our lungs and strength in our bones to worship Him for it.

This morning proves that I’m by no means an expert at this, but I’m here to remind myself that my purpose is not to chase after what the world tells me I need. As soon as I check it off the list, I know something else will take its place, just like it always has. My purpose is not to be a high-wage-earning, home-owning husband and father. I was created to worship God with and through every season of life. Each season is unique and affords us luxuries that we will never have again. The worst thing I can do is ignore the value and opportunities of where God has me at this very moment.

So it’s time to quit looking down the street wondering when the Smurf will appear. Let’s sidestep the barricades, hop a float, and start waving like we’ve got something to celebrate right now.

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