Focus – Coming to Life
by Lt. Amanda Reardon –
Over the past couple of years, several friends and a family member have moved to the Las Vegas area. Las Vegas is only about a five hour drive from Phoenix, where my family and I live, so we have visited there many times since the exodus of our loved ones to that city. While Vegas has been remaking its image and adding newer, more resplendent hotels, one particular trend both bemuses and amuses me. It seems as though the designers of the latest and greatest assume that we would all prefer to be someplace other than Las Vegas.
Two of the grandest new hotels, for example, are the Venetian and the Paris. These places have recreated the landmarks and the atmosphere of those European cities. Another impressive site is New York, New York, which looks like 20 miles of New York City crammed into a few blocks. My husband, Rob, and I recently visited a huge arcade and batting cage at the end of the strip. In that sports center they have constructed a replica of a portion of the old Boston Garden. My husband used to go to the Boston Garden to watch hockey, and he marveled at how identical the Vegas version was to the original version. He reminiscently stroked beat-up yellow chairs which we learned had actually been rescued from the arena when it was demolished. And I thought to myself: People come from all over the world to visit Las Vegas, and we are supposed to pretend we are in Boston? Or Paris or Venice?
It brought to mind the restless feeling that accompanied me throughout my youth. If it were Tuesday, I couldn’t wait for Wednesday. Every week I anticipated the high school football game, but once I was at the game, I couldn’t wait for the inevitable trip to the pizza parlor afterward. There was always this sort of feeling that something better was just around the corner.
As we get older, we find ourselves a bit less restless. Likewise, as we mature in Christ we are more able to find a certain contentment in the moment. While in prison, the apostle Paul wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)
I believe that one of the signature characteristics of a mature Christian is that he or she visibly enjoys life, despite its circumstances. Her joy is not dependent upon her bank book, her house, her car, her job, or even the behavior of her family members. She laughs often, enjoys a good sunset, maintains perspective and is not prone to panic in stressful situations. Jesus said that he came so we might have life, “and have it to the full” (John 10:10) and one can see it on the faces of the Christians who take that seriously.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” I heard Tony Campolo talk about how he likes to be the last person on the express elevator at the World Trade Center in New York, which goes straight from the first floor to the seventieth. The elevator holds about 30 people, he says. Once he gets on the elevator, he turns around, to “look at all the dead people.” Then he leads them all in a sing-a-long. He claims that he is able to engage these suit-clad business folk in choruses of “You are My Sunshine,” and the like.
Now, Campolo is a lot more daring than I, but I like his point. We are the people who have been made alive! We should be known for our joy, our tranquillity…even our sense of fun. For those who know the Creator, the sky should look bluer, the roses smell sweeter. We should live in each moment, savoring it, squeezing from it every drop of beauty it holds. This is a discipline. It does not come naturally. Paul said he learned to be content.
Those who truly live contented lives find that others want to be around them. More than that, others want to be like them–to have what they’ve got. Christ himself is so attractive, so compelling, that if we glow with the joy only he can place our hearts, people will flock to us, panting for the gospel. So let us take this day and really live it–live it to its fullest–that we may honor Christ by enjoying the abundant life he promised, and that the walking dead may implore of us how they too can be brought to life.