"For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father (John Piper's father was an evangelist) used was the story of a man converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone's amazement he came and took my father's hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face- and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears- "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!"
This was the story that gripped me more than all the stories of young people who died in car wrecks before they were converted- the story of an old man weeping that he had wasted his life. In those early years God awakened in me a fear and a passion not to waste my life. The thought of coming to my old age and saying through tears, "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!" was a fearful and horrible thought to me."
What a compelling story. One that sticks with me. I agree with John Piper. The thought of coming to the end of my days and feeling like I've wasted my life makes me shudder.
This week, a family we've known for 10 years through Boy Scouts lost their 22 year old son. When we were at the funeral, it struck me how much they had DONE with him before he died. They had really shared life together.
While at the funeral, I saw another family that we've known for 10 years. The dad has been fighting liver cancer for a few years now, and is having another surgery today. Last week, his wife was diagnosed with cancer as well. I was stunned. I didn't even know what to say. She just looked at me with tears in her eyes as she told me.
Life is short, and is often filled with twists and turns that we don't expect, and didn't plan. There isn't much we can do about that.
But I know what we can do. We can live our lives with passion, with thankfulness, with awareness that what we do while we're here matters. Who we are, what we believe, how we treat others, what we give of ourselves to the people around us... all of that matters.
So, how can I get to the end of my life and not have the feeling that I've wasted it? What does that look like, lived out, on a daily basis?
- Know your goals/purpose- There are some foundational goals and purposes in my life that I know I need to be constantly striving after. Living my life to glorify God. Being the kind of wife that makes Wade's life better and more effective. Raising my kids to love truth, and to be Godly, decent men. Loving the people around me as Christ would if He were here. Thinking about these goals and giving my energy and time toward accomplishing them is going to help me not waste my life. Do you know what your main goals are in life? What is your purpose here on a daily basis? Those are things that are essential to solidify, so that your time and effort can reflect their importance. Think about what you would name as your top goals and main purpose in life. Look at whether or not your choices support that.
- Find your passion- I learned a few years ago that my passion is to seek quality relationships with other people. To invest myself in caring about and caring for the people who God chooses to put into my life. I am passionate about that. I think about ways to pursue that passion and to make the most of the opportunities that I am given. What are you passionate about? Is it something you're able to begin pursuing?
- Live with integrity- To me, one way to waste your life is by making choices that reveal poor character. Don't take shortcuts and live in a way that will later make you feel ashamed and regretful.
- Forgive- Oh, this can be a hard one for me. I have been fortunate because God has really helped me to grow in this area. I used to be so unforgiving and bitter when someone wronged me that it would completely suck the joy out of my life. Don't waste your life being angry or replaying an ugly situation over and over in your head. Forgive. Move on. Don't dwell on unreasonable people who won't be satisfied. Don't fixate on the unfair nature of things. Do what's right and be joyful.
- Start today- don't be one of those "waiters". You know, the ones who are always waiting for something to happen before they begin living rightly? "When I get a better job." "When my kids get older." "After I finish school/get a promotion/buy a house." "When my scabs heal." (Oh, wait, sorry, that's just me, because I keep falling down so much.) Figure out what you are supposed to be doing with your life and DO IT. Don't wait for everything to be perfect before you start. You will NEVER start if you keep waiting for life to be perfect.
"God created me- and you- to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion- namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted live is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples."
The thing is, we don't know how long we have here on earth. This week I was reminded of that. Let's not waste it. Any of it. Not even a little.
The quotes from Piper are taken from Don't Waste Your Life. A great read.