Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 30, 2020

strawberry moments

How often in your old normal did you say, “If I just had more time?”  You know, the time not that long ago when every day was full, and every evening was spoken for.   Those times made us feel like a hamster on a spinning wheel!  Now, with a healthy dose of pause in our lives, how often do you find yourself saying, “Every day seems like ground hog day?”  Whether days are frantically busy or emotionally distracting, life tends to provide plenty of stressors.

In the book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, there is a humorous, yet thought-provoking story, about a monk who was chased by a tiger.

The monk raced to the edge of a cliff, glanced back, and saw the growling tiger about to spring. The monk spotted a rope dangling over the edge of the cliff. He grabbed it and began shimmying down the side of the cliff out of the clutches of the tiger. Whew!  Narrow escape. The monk then looked down and saw a quarry of jagged rocks five hundred feet below. He looked up and saw the tiger poised atop the cliff with bared claws. Just then, two mice began to nibble at the rope. What to do?

The monk saw a strawberry within arm’s reach, growing out of the face of the cliff. He plucked it, ate it, and exclaimed, “Yum! That’s the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.” If he had been preoccupied with the rock below (the future) or the tiger above (the past), he would have missed the strawberry God was giving him in the present moment.

In this very moment, you may have regrets or fears from the past week and anxiety about the next.  I wonder if it all feels like a spirited run on the hamster wheel. After reflecting on the tiger and the monk, I am reminded that we only are guaranteed this moment … and to give it away is foolish. Stop with me in this very moment and consider a verse in the book of Psalms which has been especially meaningful to me personally and speaks directly into this very real battle:

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (NLT)

What you and I miss in the moment, in our preoccupation with yesterday and tomorrow, can never be retrieved. Wisdom available from God can help us live moment by moment and see clearly how brief our lives truly are. Correspondingly, I quote a verse often in articles and conversation that puts my thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow into a more appropriate framework.

The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
Psalm 20:24 NLT

Those of us who get lost in the business of life or the distractions of a season need to look away for a moment from their tiger and jagged rocks. Can you relate? Moments matter! This particular season has gifted a big old strawberry moment for my wife and me. We have spent more time with our daughter than at any one time in the past ten years.  And, in so many ways, her presence causes us to relax with the strawberry and forget the tigers and jagged rocks. Strawberries may not quite yet be in season, but what is stopping us from having some strawberry moments? I have no idea what you are facing, but I’m sure if you slow down and start looking for God’s strawberries, you can begin to enjoy each moment. You can’t re-live yesterday or control tomorrow but finding the strawberry in this moment can turn this season of pause into reasons to smile.

An important bit of pause and final punctuation…
I am writing today with a very real sense there may be readers who are in a deep, dark season of suffering who very clearly see themselves as the monk in Brennan’s story (absent the strawberry part). While I believe very strongly in the darkness not having the power to obscure God’s goodness, I know how susceptible the mind and heart are to those suggestions of our great enemy. We at Journey are committed to coming alongside in seasons where prayer is so very needed. We stand ready to pray, and you need only click here to reach out and let us know how we can. Please hear our words but, even more, hear the words of our Savior from the gospel of John chapter sixteen verse thirty-three (NLT):

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

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