I love living in a part of the country where we experience all four seasons. (Although spring and fall can feel too short in the South with summer stretching far into both.)
With each changing season, I plant different flowers in pots at the front of my house. It is a joy of mine to switch out the annuals as the temperature changes from one season to the next.
My summer choices usually include petunias, vincas, impatiens, and begonias, but in the fall, I’m all about the pansies. Coupled with pumpkins and gourds they feel like a call of welcome to the cooler temperatures and changing leaves.
I’ve found these delicate plants thrive in the Upstate’s fall and winter. Many years they have given me blooms and color the entirety of those two seasons…even enduring our notorious ice storms.
One fall, I planted different colored pansies in pots up my front steps. At some point, seeds from these plants must have made their way into the crevices between the bricks because I currently have beautiful pansies growing out from the little hollow spaces in my front steps.
It was a complete surprise, and it’s not even pansy season right now. We’re heading into the sweltering Southern summer, but there they are…blooms of deep purple and light violet smiling up at me every time I approach our front steps.
My husband asked if I wanted him to pull them up. I don’t. They are a reminder of a truth I’m trying to hold onto these days: to live out the mission wherever I find myself at this moment.
I’ve entered middle-age. They say you spend the first half of your life looking forward and the second half looking back. There’s some truth to that. It’s interesting how one’s perspective changes with the passing of years.
When we’re young, we are prone to see life as a series of destinations: high school graduation, college, career, marriage, kids, retirement, grandkids, etc. It feels like a giant checklist we have to work through in pursuit of a happy, meaningful life.
I don’t see life that way any longer. Life isn’t about getting to the next destination; it’s about being in the moment right in front of you and making the most of it to the glory of God.
Back to the pansies growing up through my front porch steps…
A seed doesn’t have any say in its circumstances. It is carried along by a story bigger than itself. But, every seed has a mission.
Those pansies aren’t concerned with whether they’ve found themselves in season or out of season. They aren’t worried about being in a pot or in a garden or in a crack between bricks. They are focused only on their mission…to push into the bit of dirt they’ve been given, to chase the light they can sense, and to radiate the glory that is theirs to shine at this moment.
I spent the first half of my life chasing destinations and looking to the next thing thinking that’s where I’d find my purpose and finally be happy and fulfilled.
I want to spend the second half of my life like those pansies…embracing this moment, pushing into the bit of dirt I’ve been given right now, chasing the light that shines over this day, and whether in season or out, radiating the glory of God in the story unfolding before me.
You see, our mission isn’t found in a destination, some arrival point in this life, or some experience we’ve yet to have; our mission is found in Jesus, and Jesus is found in the right here and the right now.
Paul said to live is Christ, so the question is…where do we do all our living? At some point in the future or some destination down the road? No, life only happens in the present, this moment right now, these beats of our hearts and these breaths filling our lungs.
The past is lost to us and the future doesn’t belong to us, yet. It’s only in this moment before us that life can be lived.
That’s not to say the past doesn’t matter or the future shouldn’t be considered. It’s that the past has already been spent and the future hasn’t yet been given. It’s only in the here and now that anything can be done.
Whether I’m sitting at a stop light, or with a friend over coffee, or loading dishes, or scrubbing toilets, or reading my Bible, or helping with homework, or singing in praise, living is done moment by moment in the present. If to live is Christ, then this moment right here is of eternal significance.
The question isn’t what are we each going to do with our lives (as if our purpose is out there somewhere), but what are we each going to do with this moment. As we answer the latter question, the answer to the prior question will be revealed. Living isn’t about chasing destinations but stewarding moments.
When I think about the ultimate purpose for my life, I think about Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-39 where He says that the greatest commandment (and another like it) is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself.
Love isn’t a destination; love is a moment by moment choice. If we want to be able to look back over our lives at the end of our days and say we fulfilled this purpose spoken of by Jesus to the best of our abilities, we will need to make it our mission to love God and others in this present moment…whatever this present moment looks like for us.
Like those pansies, I want to be on mission fulfilling the ultimate purpose for my life wherever I find myself, in whatever season of life, and in whatever circumstances.
Or as the saying goes…to bloom where I’m planted.