Last weekend I got to be part of a youth retreat called EPIC. EPIC is an acronym that stands for Every Person Is Crucial. The entire weekend is committed to helping youth understand that they matter and they are beautiful parts of God’s Kingdom and work here on earth. The weekend is full of spiritual highs, worshipful moments, and emotional life processing.
This morning I was at the gym and I had a surreal moment where I realized, “This is it. We’re just back to reality, that quick.” I’m sitting there sweating and wishing I was literally anywhere but working out at 6am and I thought to myself, “I’m here listening to this podcast, working out and whining, like I wasn’t just weeping and praying in a circle of teenagers 72 hours ago.” But, isn’t that how life is? We have these spiritual highs, these moments where God breaks through, wrecks our hearts, we feel convicted in the moment and ready to take on the world, then the alarm goes off the next morning and we’re right back with our usual people in our usual places.
While camps, trips, church, etc. may be the vessels God sometimes uses to create Kairos moments, those moments where it feels like time stops and God is speaking directly to us, these every day moments are the spaces where discipline develops and faith is refined. The convictions of yesterday should influence the decisions of today, and the decisions of today define our character for tomorrow.
To say it another way, right now is when we decide if we are going to allow our convictions to make a change in the way we live, work, speak, give, and act. There is no mathematical formula or (insert arbitrary number) step process to making a change in how we view ourselves, love our neighbors, spend our money, or encounter God; there is only do or don’t. Be kind to yourself or don’t. Be kind to your neighbor or don’t. Read the Bible or don’t. Give something or don’t. Pray today or don’t. Sometimes, we spend so much time planning for change to happen that we miss the actual moments where change is possible. God speaks and moves in our every day decisions. We may not feel it the same as we do in those moments of spiritual high found in retreat spaces, mission trips, or church service, but it’s the mundane moments found in our every day lives that build faith, character, discipline, and sainthood.
One of my absolute favorite quotes is from Saint Mother Teresa. When discussing her work in the world, the Saint Mother said, “It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of love put into them that matters.” The same concept can be applied to our faith. The mountaintop experiences are edifying and important, but it is in the every day decisions we make that we truly become more like Christ. We communicate our love to God, our families, our communities, our neighbors, and ourselves with the way we live the small moments every day, not just the grand gestures.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am NOT saying that these changes are easy. I am a planner to my core! I make a plan for sitting down to make a plan. Seriously. I also know how true the saying is that “old habits die hard.” However, I have found freedom and joy I never knew possible in making the tough changes, trusting God more than myself, and just doing it afraid.
The fear that comes with change is SO REAL. Fear of giving time, money, and resources and then not having enough for myself or my family. Fear of being judged for making a decision that goes against cultural norms. Fear of saying “Jesus” in a place where I perceive that I shouldn’t. Fear of giving away my love and not having it returned. Fear of being rejected. When these fears creep into my own life, I have to ask myself this question… What is more important: my fear or my conviction?
When our fears are bigger than our convictions, we live with discontentment and regret becomes our reality. When our convictions outweigh our fears, that is when change happens. And so I implore us all… live with conviction. The mountaintop moment has to inform life in the valley or the entire experience is meaningless. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.