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A Life Worth Living

September 10, 2018

Written By: Braden Hughes

When I was little and sitting in “time out”, five minutes felt like eternity. When I was in elementary school and nervously sat next to my crush during lunch, the lunch period felt like eternity. When I was in middle school, sitting cramped into the non-air conditioned gym for an assembly at the end of the school day felt like eternity. When I was in high school, running sprints after football practice certainly felt like eternity. Each day seems to go by so slowly. Time drags on and the moment seems like an eternity. But all the sudden we look up from our daily routines, the calendar says “November,” and we inevitably look around and say “where did this year go?”

It happens every year ­­– why? Why do we set New Year’s resolutions and within two weeks forget or half-heartedly abandon them? I would submit it’s because we think of each moment as if it were eternity. We live as though we have all the time in the world, we “go through life” without intentionality, letting it pass by, and all the sudden it’s November again. What is a life-span’s November? Age 50? 60? 80? The truth is we don’t know. This is why James 4:14 says: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”[1] We don’t know what tomorrow or the rest of our life holds. Whether we have three months or another 80 years, all we know is our lives are a mist. We can’t just let life go by, waiting for November to come.

KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU –– AND DO IT

Most often the reason we don’t use our time wisely is because we haven’t considered how to use it wisely. It’s been said that a good way to live a fulfilling life is to write down the three things most deeply important to you and address one of them every day. The things you deem important enough to be on your list shouldn’t be your beliefs, interests, hobbies, or passions because ultimately those things shift over months and years. The things you write down now should be the convictions you feel in your heart that, if left untouched, would show your life has not been what it could have. By identifying these things, “you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have deemed supremely important, and that each day contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.”[2] As the weights of responsibility come and the things you’re involved in compete for your time and focus, these things will remain at the forefront of the mission of your life. Each decision is made through the lens of the things deeply important to your being coming to life.

You may think: “I want to make that a reality, but I’m stuck at work. It demands my time and consumes my energy. I don’t have the time or ability to focus on what matters most to me.” Warren Buffet, one of the most successful businessmen in the world, advises students to “look for the job you would take if you didn’t need a job. Don’t sleepwalk through life… You really want to be doing what you love doing.”[3] It’s easy to graduate college with the vision for your life other people have placed upon you, but Buffett’s point is this won’t fulfill you. It’s easy to take the most accessible, promising, or high-paying job, but these qualities of a job won’t fulfill you. In fact, they will prove to waste your time. Imagine you get to the end of your working life and retire alongside your spouse. As your free time is more open to do the things you love and to make the difference you want to make, you find purpose and fulfillment in the work you are doing. Buffet’s point is that your whole life should be devoted to doing that thing. Don’t settle down with the job that seems most appealing, but rather the one in which you can invest your time and energy and feel purpose in doing so.

Also consider what you do outside of work. It’s easy to switch from “ON” to “OFF” after a day of work. This can be anything from watching episodes of a show on Netflix, playing a game on your phone, hanging out with friends, or going straight to sleep. Imagine the impact we could have if we didn’t allow ourselves to go into autopilot for the second half of our day. We have to realize that ultimately, knowing everything about this year’s Bachelor, keeping up with the stats of our favorite sports team, or reaching the next level on a video game is not what matters in life. Sure this can be a good way to connect with others and get our mind off some of life’s stressors, but to live a fulfilling life, we have to find value in bigger things. Read a book that challenges your thinking, talk to old friends you haven’t seen in a while, build something, learn something, plan something, meet your neighbors, you name it. Shame on us if our lives are a mist and we use them to get a new high score on a game or gain followers on a social network. There is more to life beyond ourselves, and God has given each of us different gifts, talents, interests, etc. We can use them for the betterment of ourselves, our communities, and our world, but our immediate desire is to switch into autopilot. If you want to live a life not wasted, find value in the way God has made you and use that to bless others and build His kingdom.

LOVE THOSE AROUND YOU

In an interview, Amelia Harper, age 103, says “a good idea is to behave well to other people. Show them respect and help them as much as you possibly can, and it will be repaid hundred folds.”[4] This comes from a woman at the end of a century-long life, someone who had time to look back at her life and offer one word of advice to those who would listen, and she made an appeal to spend time helping others. Greater than this, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he writes “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The life lived for self leads to division and brokenness. The statistics are shocking of the number of athletes, CEO’s, celebrities, etc. who have been divorced, lost relationships with family members, have problems finding deep relationships with friends, or turn to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide even in their success. Why? Because we are naturally selfish people. Though not every person takes it to such extremes, our desires are naturally self-centered which leads to our destruction. A life worth living is one lived in service to others. “For even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve others and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus was the most selfless person to ever walk the planet, and the fruit of his life changed the world. His example of selflessness is difficult to wrap our minds around and daunting to imitate. But be encouraged that even Christ himself said “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Christ’s time on earth was limited, so He gave His spirit to live inside those who believe in Him. A life not wasted is one lived in step with His spirit in he who believes. It is one used to serve like the Messiah did and live a life of selflessness. Look anywhere in this world and you will see the destruction created by a life lived selfishly. But when we look to Jesus’ example and live to love those around us, we will be more fulfilled in the things we do and the time we have.

IN CONCLUSION

The life worth living seems counter-intuitive to modern American thinking. Don’t worry about making the most money possible? Don’t take the easy road? Stay off autopilot? Serve others? In the world’s eyes, these all seem like ridiculous principles by which to spend one’s life. But if we truly believe God’s word to us, that our lives are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes,” we will spend our time intentionally, not focused on the things of this world, for they too will pass away. We will live a life of selflessness and conviction beyond ourselves. We will use the gifts God has given us to bless others and see the kingdom of God made great. For it is in this kingdom we will live the rest of our lives in eternity, once our mist here on earth vanishes.

 


[1] Holy Bible (ESV)

[2] Covey, Sean. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

[3] https://youtu.be/2mlZFar2iLA