History: One Choice That Could Change Everything

Mr. Payne taught me junior high school history. Like most junior high students, I don’t remember much about learning history, but I do remember learning something about life I will never forget. Mr. Payne was incredibly consistent. Every day, five minutes before class ended, he would say “Alright people, if the creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return, I’ll see you tomorrow with homework in hand.”

Farewell 2014
Image from Photodune.

Every day. “If the creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return . . .” What did that have to do with history or with junior high?

Everything.

My history teacher’s name was Mr. Payne, ironically. Pain often teaches us, but instead of learning from it, we try to escape it.

2014 is almost history . . . the few remaining grains of sand are slipping through the hourglass. Last I checked, the creek didn’t rise and the Lord didn’t return. Looking back on this year, were you mentally present or absent as life unfolded each day?

Presence vs. Absence

If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t make the honor roll in 2014 . . . in fact, I barely passed. I wanted to skip class most of the year, but the Principal (that would be God) had other plans. I know because we met often. It was a full classroom . . . my husband, four of our five kids between ages 16 and 24, and me. I have special needs along with my son, which calls for a special teacher—just sayin’.

  • In January, three of the four had major medical issues.
  • By February, I had more doctors than family members on speed dial. I had been to the drug store so many times, I was tempted to invite the pharmacists to family gatherings.
  • By April, I was showing up to life but wasn’t totally present.
  • By late May, I made an official, necessary appointment with the Principal to file several complaints and offer some recommendations (as if . . .); then I went back to wish away the days.

In all the wishing, things went from hard to harder . . . as did my heart.

In the classroom of life, there is no summer break. I entered the fall wondering where time had gone. My daughter planned to marry in November, and I did not want her memories of her remaining days living at home to be negative. She had endured enough doctor visits, emergencies, and my mood changes.

The future is God's

(Photo by Christian-Holzinger. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Don’t Waste the Gift of Time

Then I read Abandonment to Divine Providence, the work of 17th century French Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade. His writing is a call to live every minute as a divine gift of grace from God. Simply, to be PRESENT—not passively despondent—in life’s moments is to be an aware, active participant because we do not know how much time we have on this earth. Time is a gift. Let me state it again: time is a GIFT! Each moment has been appointed for our lives, which means no matter how we define it—good, bad, comfortable, uncomfortable, wanted, unwanted—God’s providential hand has allowed that moment for a purpose in our history.

If we want our history to matter, we must show up in the present—fully, completely, thoroughly—or we may miss God’s hand of providence and His grace. I wonder how many times I missed the Spirit’s touch; how many drops of divine goodness fell that were saturated in mercy, joy, delight, rest, hope, peace.

As long as the “creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return,” what kind of history are you writing? Are you aware that this moment may be your last? What would your kids, your mate, your friends say if they read your story? In spite of the circumstances, make every single moment of 2015 priceless. Ask the Lord to help you stay focused in the present and to find meaning in each moment He gives by His grace.

Let Me Hear from You

How have you spent 2014? Do you have any regrets? Would you do anything differently? What are you going to do to stay present in every moment of this upcoming year?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  • cat

    i really feel like this is a theme He is also teaching me. Ironically being present was part of sunday’s sermon at church as well. ya think He is trying to get my attention? my pastor said to imagine the end of dec in 2015 and realize that we have won the game (he was using a football analogy) then go back to today and live 2015 knowing you are a winner in the end – because we all have victory in Jesus.

    I really appreciate this post – because you define what it means to be present
    “Simply, to be PRESENT—not passively despondent—in life’s moments is to be an aware, active participant because we do not know how much time we have on this earth”
    this really helped me.

    i also really liked this
    “If we want our history to matter, we must show up in the present—fully, completely, thoroughly—or we may miss God’s hand of providence and His grace. I wonder how many times I missed the Spirit’s touch; how many drops of divine goodness fell that were saturated in mercy, joy, delight, rest, hope, peace.”

    thanks colleen for this beautiful post. it challenged me (which I don’t like – but it is good for me!) and i appreciate your vulnerability and authentic confession that you werent as present as you wanted to be this year – I can so relate to that “survivor” mode!

    • Cat,
      I thoroughly love your honesty!!!! I too have a love/hate relationship sometimes with the truth. Being present is very hard for me…having grown up in a high achieving home, I’ve been habitually focused on what I could/should have done better (past) or what I could/should do next (future)…which thoroughly leaves out the present. So this is one of my themes too for this next year. It really started when we had so many illnesses this past year and then my daughter was engaged. The tug of war in my attitude was huge but I was determined to celebrate her. So I had to focus…sometimes focus really hard to be present. In so doing, I realized how much I missed. It was hard to face but I’m glad now because it’s beginning to change. So let’s stick together and help each other on this one. You are so amazing and thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. And…don’t you just love when you hear the Lord speaking to you because the same message is heard repeatedly! UGH!!! But what love He has for us. Thank you again my dear friend. Colleen

  • Lionel Scotti

    Hi Colleen! I want to send you a letter/story about my own special needs situation, I need an email address for this. lionelscotti@gmail.com

    • Lionel,
      Thanks for connecting; I would love to read what you have written. If you send it to this address: receptionist@insight.org they will forward it to me. Hope to see it soon. Good to see you on the blog too. Have a great night. Colleen

    • Lionel,
      I just wanted you to know I received your letter and so appreciate your honesty. Thank you for entrusting your story to me; I will reply via the email you sent. I also want you to know I understand everything you mentioned and have some thoughts that may provide hope. Again, thank you and I hope the ministry continues to lift your spirits. In Grace and Truth, Colleen