The Instant

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

In her book The Year of Magical Thinking,  Joan Didion talks about the “ordinary instant” when her husband died.

The ordinary instant. Relative to which, we mark our lives as the Before and After.

For me, there was the ordinary instant when the pediatrician told me my 4-year-old son who I thought had the flu had a 600 blood sugar and we needed to rush to the ER.  Or the ordinary instant on a tennis court when what was thought to be heartburn became a heart attack.  Or the ordinary instant of the phone blaring at 3AM and your heart pounds with anticipation of bad news. And then you hear what you’ve dreaded.

My friend, Carol, says that in those instants and in the After – that’s when you go deeper in your soul.  That is where you find the God who walks with you, grieves with you, calls you by name, and offers the hope of heaven.  No sugar-coating.  No platitudes.  Just a Father who will forever BE – who says to cast all your burdens in His direction.  A Father who is not indifferent, who entered humanness, who suffered, who reaches out when the unspeakable happens.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us about seasons – A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to weep and a time to laugh.

When Ordinary Instants turn tragic, when your season abruptly changes – the Psalms tell us –

God is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


There is no Ordinary Instant that can take us away from God the Father walking beside us, holding us up, and those we love, when we cannot hold ourselves up.

Such a God I will follow all my days.

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Want an idea for praying for anyone in the aftermath of an ordinary instant?   My pastor suggests praying the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.

God, may ____ know you as his/her Great  Shepherd, ever present.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. 

Please bring rest and peace  to ___________ that he/she may lie down in pastures and experience still waters.  Restore ________’s soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.  Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

God, please lead ______ through this valley, reassuring him/her in unmistakeable ways that You are holding him/her by your right hand and that joy will return.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God, please anoint the head of _______ that he/she may know your goodness and mercy.  Shower _________ with blessings.  And may he/she know, really know, the hope of Heaven, our eternal home.


Amen and Amen.



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