Carpe Diem

This neighborhood is a transitional one.

Nearly 60% of its residents are renters.

That means they move a lot.

Fortunately, they often move to different homes or apartments within this same community, and we’re able to maintain connections with those families and children. Sometimes, though, they move beyond our feasible reach — to North or South Phoenix, to one of the suburbs, to Mexico, or to California — and you hope and pray that another ministry in that locale is poised to reach out to them.

I know that life is short and precious, that time on this earth is a limited commodity. I know that the Psalmist uses such descriptions as “a shadow….fleeting….a few handbreadths….a mere breath” when illustrating the “measure of [our] days.”

But even with this knowledge in my possession–of humanity’s frailty and brevity–I too often live with the attitude that there’s all the time in the world. I take it for granted that tomorrow will look like today, and yesterday, and the day before, that doors will remain open, that if we said “hello” today, we’ll get to say it tomorrow, too.

I forget how transitional life is.

Yesterday two of our Kids Klubbers boarded the van with a Big Announcement. They’re energetic, fun brothers around the ages of 6 and 9. In the 5+ years I’ve lived in Phoenix, they’ve lived in the same house, on the same street, with the same parents, with a bird and a dog or two. I remember when they bricked their whole front yard, with the exception of a few circles surrounding some trees. I remember when their younger sister was born, and I was invited inside the house to take a peek at the little one. I remember the excitement of the older brother when he went off to camp at Youth Haven Ranch, and how his pronunciation of it sounded more like “Youth Heaven.”

Now I remember when he made the Big Announcement.

Before he boarded the van yesterday, he stood right outside my open window and announced matter-of-factly:

“We’re moving. This is the last time we’re going to church. The living room is packed.”

“Where are you moving?” I asked.

“Far away,” was his response. “To an apartment. We’ll go to a different school.”

He clarified why the sudden, out-of-the-blue move:

“My mom and dad are fighting. We will come see our dad on the weekend.”

My heart sank. These little guys are caught in the middle of their parents’ separation. They’ll have to make new friends at a new school, settle into a new home, and adjust to ping-ponging between mom and dad. Will there be a church nearby that will invite them to come? How will they fare when their mom has to get a job to make ends meet? What scars will they bear, or do they bear already, because of the brokenness of their family?

This encounter with the Big Announcement, while unexpected and unwanted, has been a good reminder to seize “such a time as this,” or in a similar vein, carpe diem. It is not promised that tomorrow I can share Jesus with Juan or Angel or Cassandra. However, there is the moment that is now, and how is He asking me to spend it?

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