Is it odd that I often see September as the month of new beginnings rather than January? September always feels like a fresh start. While January has a bitter, cold, dreary demeanor, at least here in Michigan, September is the best of all of worlds. Days are still warm enough to feel like summer and nights start to have just enough nip in the air to stir the excitement of all that autumn has to offer. It’s the kind of chill that prompts you to envelope yourself in your favorite old sweater. You know, the one that you long to be reunited with every fall. You start to itch for trips to the cider mill, pumpkin spiced lattes, the beautiful colors of changing leaves, and fantasy football…LOL…not so much on the last one but that will make my husband happy. Yes, September is a month full of promise, full of new beginnings.
“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so…Get on your way!” ~ Dr. Seuess
Remember those “night before the first day of school jitters” you used to get as a kid? It was the same feeling you got the night before you embarked on any new adventure. The excitement and anticipation would course through your veins and manifest in an all consuming fluttering that left you feeling like a whole colony of butterflies had taken up residence deep in your stomach. It made you giddy, it made you anxious, you were so ready for the new adventure that it made sleep nearly impossible. This was my oldest son’s reality last night. Today was his day, the first day of middle school. All summer long he has been anxiously awaiting this new adventure. He has been so ready to tackle the new opportunities that being a big 7th grader will offer him. Honestly, I am amazed at what a deep thinker he is at times. He has told me many times that the start of middle school is a fresh start, a time to really come into his own. Wow…what 12 year old boy thinks like that? He definitely doesn’t get that from his mama. When I was starting middle school my biggest concern, I hate to admit this, was whether the cool kids would like me or not. Today he faced his mountain, Mt. Richards Middle School. Like a climber getting ready to conquer Everest he made sure he was prepared. Checked off all his supplies, made sure all forms were signed, practiced his locker combination, and roamed the school to get a feel for this uncharted territory. He was ready. At 6:00am the alarm went off and he was up, today was his day. The bus doesn’t pick him up til 7:40 so we had plenty of time to chat and double-check that he had all he needed. About 20 minutes before his bus came I saw the first sign of something other than excitement in his face, nervousness was settling in. He looked at me and said “mom will you pray over me?” My heart soared. For the last few minutes I had with him this morning we spent time in God’s word together and then I prayed over him. Somewhere along the way my little boy turned into a young man who knows that when you face the unknown mountains of life you seek after God’s presence in prayer and then you get going on your way. “You don’t need to know everything about the mountain ahead to take the next step.” This morning those words of Pastor Louie Giglio echoed in my head as I witnessed my son preparing to take the next steps on an unknown mountain climb.
“Carpe Diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It’s later than you think.” ~ Horace
“It’s later than you think.” How ominously true those words are. One thing I know for certain is that life is short. Not one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow yet we live as if we have all the time in the world. Sunday as I sat in church our pastor spoke about creating margin in our lives. It was the final week of a sermon series about creating margin. What is margin? It is the amount of time, the amount of ourselves, that is available beyond what is necessary. Most of us have no margin because we live in a culture that celebrates busyness. One of the single greatest weapons the enemy uses against us is our schedule. We are so busy doing what is seemingly important that we fail to give time and attention to what is truly important. I just read a quote the other day that simply said “If you didn’t have time to pray or read Scripture today you are busier than God intended you to be.” I LOVE THAT!!! God created us to have margins, some of the best things in life happen in the margins. It’s in the margin that we are intentional, thoughtful, compassionate, and obedient. It is in the margin that we become more intimately acquainted with our heavenly Father. It is in the margin that we exercise the idea of carpe diem.
“The stakes are too high to die with a small vision.” ~ Pastor Louie Giglio
What if we all went to bed every night with the very same anticipation that kids do on the eve of back to school? Or think about a small child on Christmas Eve, their eyes illuminated with hope, their smiles give away the all-consuming excitement in which they eagerly await all that Christmas morning has in store. Just conjuring up that image brings a smile to my face and a flood of memories of that euphoric feeling. But maybe, just maybe, the key to carpe diem is wrapped up in the carefree example that our children set for us. An emotional connection to an eagerly anticipated event. What if the very way we live out carpe diem is dependent on our attitude, our sense of urgency, and an overwhelming desire to be used by God every day? What if we adopted the Dr. Seuss attitude that everyday is our day to shine…shine brightly for the One who created us. Embracing that the mountain that lies before us is the very thing that God will use to bring glory to His name if we would only trust that He will give us the tools to climb it. What if we treated every day like an Everest climbing experience? Eagerly anticipating the adrenaline rush of conquering something new. Today is brand new…nobody has been here before and no one will be here ever again. What you do with today is unique to today but its outcome could have a ripple effect that reaches beyond generations. But we MUST start every day fully prepared for the climb. Immersed in God’s presence by spending time with Him and in His word. Approaching the day with a heart of thanksgiving. Why? Because a heart of thanksgiving is a life full of joy. The joyful climber will not waver if the conditions get rough. The joyful climber understands that their joy flows from the One guiding them rather than the circumstances of the climb. Carpe diem, seizing the day, is not only possible but it should be pursued by everyone who has heart for people and a heart to serve Jesus. Seizing the day starts with recognizing that every day is precious. Seizing the day means approaching every day with anticipation and excitement. Seizing the day starts when we realize that everyday God desires to use us. Seizing the day starts with a heart of gratitude…gratitude for what you have and generous spirit to share it with others. Seizing the day starts with seizing the One who created the day…everyday! God doesn’t want us to merely survive this life, He wants us to thrive on the adventure of sharing His love.
“This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24
September is the month of new beginnings. One season changes into the next, a new school year launches, and new mountains are meant to be climbed. Is there any greater way to start anew than to rejoice in the day the Lord has made? A day made so that we could be in His presence and experience His love. A day made so that we would have that the honor and the opportunity to share His love with others. My new beginning is to live a life of carpe diem…I will seize the day because every day is a gift from the One who ordained me to be a part of it so that I may serve and glorify Him.