By CHRIS BATES
The sum of moments
There were memorable sets of moments on that July day, standing beside the Bitterroot River in western Montana. Despite being early summer, the upstream breeze made it comfortable. We had been fly fishing on this river many times, but to be back here with the fast, clear water and the surrounding mountains felt amazing.
We had made it here despite the pandemic. It took months of planning and weeks of preparing rods, flies and gear. My brother and I had fished this area as young boys and, with help from our uncle, been able to go back with friends over the years. Memories flooded back of cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout caught around each turn of the river. We all felt grateful to be there.
The four of us showed up apart from our normal lives as business leaders, husbands and fathers for that week of fishing. One of our group suggested we pray together before putting the boats in the river that first morning, and none of us hesitated. We stood circled together by the rushing water. He led us in a prayer of gratitude for where we were, who we were, and the opportunity to be together to take in God’s bounty and nature.
Taking that time for prayer together in that scene was a vivid reminder of how our actions can speak volumes. After all, these were four guys who focused on many right and good things such as family, careers, marriage and fun. It brings the question, though, as to how all of us combine our earthly roles with living as disciples at the same time. We all tend to be focused on the tasks of the day and what needs to be taken care of before each deadline. We are consumed by the activities of work and life and the emotions from whatever intersects with us at each moment.
How do our hours and days stack up, and what do we show for them even as we intend to follow God’s will? The sum of our moments is far greater than each moment by itself. Maybe we should ask ourselves some new questions as believers and be more intentional: Do we include spiritual items on our to-do list each day? Are we a Christian and a businessperson, or are we a Christian businessperson? Do we parent our children in godly ways when it fits around soccer and supper, or do we teach them to use their personal relationship with Him during each activity? Do we love our spouse with the fierceness that He loves the church, or is it easier to fall into routines that do not show it well every day?
We cannot come to the end of our journey here and have lived the life of a warrior for Christ by just showing up for battles that are convenient. The book of our life does not make sense unless we have taken actions to put the pages together deliberately as we go. There is a real disconnect with God’s plan for us when it feels socially awkward or does not fit into our schedule to take outward actions of faith.
“Lifesong” by Casting Crowns gives great words of guidance: “Lord I give my life / A living sacrifice / To reach a world in need / To be your hands and feet / So may the words I say / And the things I do / Make my lifesong sing.”
Be challenged to live out your faith unceasingly. The Bitterroot River does not shy away from the boulders in its path. It goes right at them, rushes around them and continues down the mountain as intended. Whether your boulders are financial challenges, health problems, pandemics or unanswered questions of faith, go right at them. Seize the moments by sharing prayers with those around you. Seek the Spirit to teach you when you do not understand. Lift up your family, coworkers and those you bump into along your path.
Seek Him, and then share Him. Be able to relate to Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7–8 when he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Let the composition of your life be all that God intends for you each day.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.