December 31, 2020
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While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Tony Campolo once turned an ordinary lecture into an unforgettable lesson. He asked an unsuspecting student sitting in the front row, “Young man, how long have you lived?” The student answered his age. Tony responded, “No, no, no. That’s how long your heart has been pumping blood. That’s not how long you have lived.”
Tony Campolo then told the class about one of the most memorable moments of his life. In 1944, his fourth-grade class took a field trip to the top of the Empire State Building. It was the tallest building in the world at the time. When nine-year-old Tony got off the elevator and stepped onto the observation deck overlooking New York City, time stood still. “In one mystical, magical moment I took in the city,” he said. “If I live a million years, that moment will still be part of my consciousness, because I was fully alive when I lived it.”
Tony turned back to the student. “Now, let me ask you the question again. How long have you lived?” The student sheepishly said, “When you say it that way, maybe an hour; maybe a minute; maybe two minutes.”
How long have you lived? I mean really lived. It’s easy calculating age. It’s more difficult quantifying life. Why? Because time is measured in minutes, while life is measured in moments. What are those top-of-the-Empire-State-Building moments for you? For most of us, they are too few and far between. When was the last time that time stood still? And if you turned those moments into minutes, how long have you lived?
According to psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, the average person spends 46.9 percent of their time thinking about something other than what they’re doing in the present moment. We’re half-present half the time, which means we’re half-alive.
The only way to be fully alive is to be fully present, and the only way to be fully present is to live in day-tight compartments. For far too many of us, life feels like the meaningless passage of time between far too few meaningful moments. And even when they do come along, we take selfies instead of being fully present. We miss the moment because we’re living in the wrong time zone. We’re so fixated on the past and so anxious about the future that we miss the present. Then we wonder where life went.
The future is right here, right now—the eternal now. Heaven is invading earth. Eternity is invading time. Most people falsely assume that eternity starts at some point in the far-off future, and they live accordingly. Eternity is counterclockwise. Eternity is invading time every second of every minute of every hour of every day!
“Every now is an eternity,” said Frank Laubach, “if it is full of God.”
Excerpted from Win the Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help You Stress Less & Accomplish More. Copyright © 2020 by Mark Batterson. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.