Really — I am telling the truth! I really have no interest in gambling (thankfully).
The real reason we go to Las Vegas is that our son lives there. And we like to see him occasionally. And, thankfully, he likes seeing us, too!
So, because we were in Vegas last week, the question many people have asked me was, “What did you do there? Did you go to a show? Did you see Donny and Marie? Did you see Cirque du Solei?”
They were right to ask those questions, because certainly there are tons of things to do there. And, I will admit, we have had some great experiences there hiking through the Red Rocks, marveling at the Hoover Dam, and seeing the likes of Barry Manilow and other entertainers.
But this last time — maybe it was the fact that it was quite cool the whole time we were there — it seemed like we just enjoyed spending time together with our son and daughter-in-law, her mother, and all of our friends at Grace Valley Christian Reformed Church.
Sometimes you don’t have to do a whole lot to have a good time. I’ve heard it said before that “it’s not what you do, but the company you do it with.” People make the difference. So, this time, the best part of the vacation was just being together.
It may sound contrived, but it is really true for me that we didn’t have to go anywhere special. It was enough just talking together, telling stories, laughing and eating good food together. You don’t have to make big plans or spend a lot of money to have a good time. More than anything, those days in Vegas were really about living in the moment.
Most of us probably never have heard of Earl Nightingale. In reading his biography, I discovered that he was on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was one of only 15 survivors aboard that day. But what Nightingale was especially known for was his work on radio. During the 1950s, he was a regular radio personality on WGN in Chicago. He was a very positive person and motivational speaker who had a lot to say about human character development and meaningful existence.
Nightingale is quoted as saying the following: “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”
Those words pretty much summarize how I felt about last week. I wish I could say that is how I always live. We are a busy lot, aren’t we? Always rushing around thinking about this and that and the other thing, when we should be savoring every minute, as Nightingale puts it.
Jesus had similar thoughts, I think, when he said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 5:25) Again and again in the verses in this chapter, it’s like he is saying, “Just cool it! Chill out! Don’t worry! Relax! I’ll take care of you.” And indeed he does.
I am also reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words about being content. I believe he was of the mind that we don’t always have to be doing super-extraordinary things. In Philippians 2:11-12, he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” That secret, of course, is faith. It is knowing and believing that God is always with us and that He cares so deeply about us. Nothing — no trouble or hardship in the present or in the future — can ever separate us from the love of God. (See Romans 8:35-39)
Knowing all that, how can we not enjoy every moment of our lives?
Just in case you are wondering, the Bible is not just some Pollyanna story where everything is always fine and dandy. The Bible is terribly realistic. Life is not always easy. There will always be challenges and trials for us in life. But we face them knowing that “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
About the writer: The Rev. John Koedyker is pastor of congregational care at the First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.