July 18, 2012

Carpe Diem Unplugged

Some months ago I wrote an editorial revisiting the biblical concept of carpe diem (made famous by the Roman poet Horace) and invited readers to react with their take on this basic principle of Christian living.1 Many readers responded with thought-provoking angles on this important issue. They wrote about the challenges of busyness (and doing “good stuff”), priorities, personal struggles, and moments of solitude. Alejo, from Mexico, who works at an Adventist institution, wondered how to avoid being busy and overlooking the important things. He felt that prayer is the only filter that would really help.

Sylvia, from western Colorado, shared her struggles with days that are constantly filled to the brim. She suggested regular times of mental, emotional, and spiritual “house cleaning,” where everything is on the block. “We vacationed recently in a very quiet, beautiful place in Utah. We were so refreshed,” Sylvia wrote at the end of her message. Good for you, Sylvia; seize the day!

Andrea added an important dimension. She reminded us that our effort to keep first things first should be seen in the context of the great controversy. Satan is indeed interested in keeping us busy and loves to disconnect us from the source of life. Delores shared her struggles with cancer. When she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2006 she decided to live life to its full—every day. God has been faithful in her life, and six years later she is still trying to be a blessing to others.

2012 1520 page6Bill from California wrote about the poverty of time he experienced after the birth of their second daughter. “I realized that I had far more money than I had time (and that wasn’t because I had a lot of money!). How did I cope? By mercilessly excising from my life many good and profitable experiences and responsibilities, and keeping only the very best—all this, of course, bathed in prayer.” Keep at it, Bill!

The editorial also traveled all the way to north Texas, where Adventist Review columnist Dixil Rodríguez shared it with a group of young scholars2 from a local university. Here are some of their intriguing responses.

“It is much easier to live the day than to seize the day,” noted Blake. “Being a blessing to others requires both action and time. After reading the editorial I thought: In my Christian life, I am lacking in action and living by reaction. I am literally trying to live today so that I may seize tomorrow. Here’s the reality check: by not being a blessing to others on a daily basis, I am wasting precious time.” Well put, Blake—even though I confess this is getting rather personal.

Mark reminds us that carpe diem involves accountability. “Christ is asking me for more than just my ‘daily’ attempt at survival. He is reminding me that today, in this moment that is truly given by grace, I am held at a high standard to work—for Him. The rest will fall in place. I can seize the day, but I am responsible for how I live it.”

Let’s listen to Amber: “I rush through my days, hoping that the goals I am working on now will pay off later. Between being a mother, a wife, a student, and participating in the many activities those ‘jobs’ require, I had to decide how to best manage my time to succeed at the important tasks. The editorial brought about a harsh realization: the first thing I ‘gave up’ when I returned to school was active participation in my church’s women’s ministry and hospitality program. Of all the things to give up, I opted for the one where God could use me to be a blessing to others.”

Perhaps we should leave the last word to Scripture: “Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes” (Heb. 3:12, 13, Message).3 Seize the day!

1 Gerald A. Klingbeil, “Carpe Diem,” Adventist Review (Mar. 22, 2012).
2 First names have been used in this editorial with the permission of the students.
3 Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor for the Adventist Review. This article was published July 19, 2012.