A couple of years ago a lovely and talented woman named Glennon Melton wrote a blog post titled “Don’t Carpe Diem.” It went wild on the internet and led to a published book, ongoing speaking engagements, and a nationwide movement. Glennon is a beautiful thinker, an incredibly talented writer, and seems like a genuinely kind person. I could totally relate to what she said about the hard work of parenting and the difficulty of “seizing” one moment, let alone a whole day. But something about the post has niggled me since I read it.
I think it’s just that it doesn’t do anything with all the moments she might call “unseized.” All the unbeautiful, difficult, monotonous, failed moments — and even the moments that aren’t so bad, but wouldn’t make the scrapbook — are simply treated as filler between the few truly lovely (“kairos” or “God time”) moments each day. And this just doesn’t seem right.
Mostly because every moment is, literally, a gift from a good and holy God. Every breath, even. When I think of Jesus “upholding the universe by the word of his power,” I am reminded that he is right this minute allowing me to have this breath, and another, and another. Upholding the universe with words sounds like a very intentional activity. It doesn’t give the impression that God’s got us on some kind of timed feeder like we might set up for the guinea pig when we leave town for a couple of days. Speaking words takes thought.
God’s thoughts for us aren’t passive, either. I walk past the guinea pig’s cage, notice he’s getting low on water, and go fill up his dropper. But the Bible talks about a God who “knitted me together in my mother’s womb” — a God who planned and wrote down every single day of my life before it ever began — a God who knows every word I’ll speak before it ever rolls off my tongue.
This is not a God who wastes moments, let alone hours or days. And I don’t think we get to dismiss the majority of them either.
Obviously Glennon’s right that some moments feel a lot more enjoyable and beautiful than others. And she’s very real about the fact that some moments in life are truly dark and awful. Left to ourselves and others, we’re going to experience a lot of bad moments. Even if we could overcome our own faults and seize and make moments wonderful, we’re often at the mercy of other people who sin against us in countless ways.
It’s true: We can’t seize the day. But someone else already did.
When the first man and woman wrecked that first moment so long ago, God was already a step ahead. He’d already made a plan. He’d already written their days in his book, thousands of years into the future. His beautiful son would Carpe Diem in a way no one else ever could, and through him every single second of our lives has been, is being, or will be made into something far more exquisite than we can ever imagine. The darkest, dirtiest, most detestable moments are not beyond the reach of this Prince who clothes himself in white linen to storm the gates of hell.
When Jesus walked the earth, his moments didn’t all fit in a crimped-border photograph. Oh, I know he laughed with friends, enjoyed some good meals, was respected and loved by many. But he also got dirty. He cried. He broke a sweat. He got angry enough to yell. He got hungry and thirsty and hot and tired. He was hated. Mocked. Beaten. Murdered.
Not what we might call “seizing the day.” But, man, did he ever.
Exactly how does Jesus redeem all the ugly, lazy, impatient, boring moments in my life? I don’t know. But I know he does. And I’m blown away by this King who loves so big and so well — this God who is holding me together right this second because my days are written in his book. If I spend even a few seconds thinking about this, I start walking in his direction, trying to get a better look at him. And when I look at him, I’m changed. And then regret for what I’ve done in the ugly moments becomes this incredible gratitude for what he’s done because of them. And it stops being about me and what I can or can’t do, and starts being about him. And then more and more of my moments are filled with love and repentance and patience and joy.
And doesn’t that answer at least part of the question?
So don’t resign yourself to the fact that you can’t, won’t, don’t seize very many moments very well. Don’t comfort yourself with the idea that you’re not really supposed to have more than a few beautiful moments anyway. Revel in the fact that there’s a good and holy God who can and will seize every one. And that God loves you and welcomes you to know him.