How long do you think an “instant” actually is?

Is it a few seconds?  Half a second?  Almost as long as a moment?

Silly questions, really, but for some reason I’ve been feeling a need to define and quantify something that I’ve learned has so much power in it.

You see…
Everything can change in an instant.

Dozens and hundreds and thousands of lives can be completely altered in just one instant.
Views can shift and perspectives be forever moved in just one instant.
A lifetime of anything can be lost or gained in no longer than just one instant.

Sure, there might be months (or even years) of challenges surrounding a situation….but really, the actual epicenter of change occurs in a single definable moment.

For example: someone might be battling cancer. They will have countless rounds of radiation and/or chemotherapy, Their lives and the lives of their loved ones will have to radically adjust and readjust as they stumble along the new pathway.  Every single thing in their life–big and tiny–will be somewhat altered by this diagnosis. However…this huge season of upheaval and change can all be funneled back to the moment when the words of diagnosis confirmation were spoken: “It’s cancer.”. That. That instant.  That is the exact sharp sliver of time when life changed.  That instant becomes the marker for “before” and “after”.  It is the precise delineation between how it was and how it is.

There are so many different moments like these in any life.

The moment you hear the words, “You have the job”…
The exact second you lose your balance and fall in slow motion to the ground…
When you both say, “I do”…
When the phone rings in the middle of the night and you hear that voice
That moment the second line faintly appears and you know you’ll be a parent…
Hearing the words “It’s over”…

While these precise moments might be bad or good, one thing is for sure: once they’ve happened life will never go back to what it was before.

My husband was instructing our newly licensed driver on safety last night. He explained that a situation could turn from fine to tragic in the time it took to glance at your phone, fiddle with the radio, look too long at a billboard or grab something from the back seat.  In other words, one instant of carelessness from a driver is all it takes to potentially ruin an entire lifetime. Not the most cheerful conversation, but it was a scary truth that needed to be presented.

While many teenagers (and lots of older folk) seem to think that they are immortal and life goes on forever, some of us know the truth.  Life may indeed be long and full of years, but those years and that life is nothing more than a series of instants….and any one of those billions of instants has the potential to alter the course permanently.

That’s scary.  When we look at it like that, life seems so very fragile.  I certainly don’t want to be in charge of all those moments…and I really don’t want to constantly worry about them.  It’s too much for my mind and too much for my hands to hold.

Here’s the sweet part of it:  we don’t have to be in charge.
You see, God MADE time.
He made the years and the moments and the centuries and the seconds and the instants.  He made you and me and the teenager down the street and knows exactly how each of us fit into each other’s life stories.  He knows when those defining moments will occur and He is next to us as they do.
I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
–Psalm 31:14-15

Truth # 1: you will have moments in your life that you wish you could change.  You will want to go back to how things were “before”, and wish with all of your heart you can recreate that moment and do it differently.
Truth #2: God is on both sides of that instant. No matter what the “after” looks like, you’re not going to walk through it alone. He promised.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
–Isaiah 41: 10

When (not if, but when) the “after” part of a situation happens and the changes it brings are not so easy, we may struggle with the realization that we can’t change what happened.  That can be hard. Really hard. Devastating.  At that point we need to come to another “instant”; one where we have to consciously make a choice.  We must make the decision that we can’t handle it, and that we are letting it go. Not “letting it go” as in forgetting about it and refusing to acknowledge that it happened, but “letting it go” in the sense that we know it can’t be changed and we have to keep living and move forward into the new scary life that our “after” has become. This “instant” is the moment we hand it over to God.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, 
So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
–Hebrews 4:16

We don’t get to choose all of our life-defining moments, so when we DO have the ability we must choose well.  We have to make sure we hand control of them over to the only One who can handle them in the way they need. I believe that part of the definition of an “instant” is that there exists a time period before and after it. When the “after-the-instant” time is hard, it’s better not to try to go it alone.  There will be many more minutes and hours and days and years that need to be traveled….and we will need the right kind of help to make that time good.

Eventually, all of those before’s and after’s and instants will add up to become the story of our life. Each crazy twist and turn will end up leading us to a good place–in the end. A place that God already chose for us.
Let Him help you get there well.
Choose the instants you can.
As for the ones you can’t? Don’t run away from them….because God is in those as well, waiting to help you walk through. Lean on Him…He’s strong enough.

Lastly….a reminder to myself:  Remember to be grateful in every moment.  Look for the good, find it, and hold onto it.  It can all change so quickly…it only takes an instant.





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