The Life We Do Not Live

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I’ve had more opportunities recently than most have in a span of years, to consider the brevity of life. I suppose, with the current pandemic we are struggling through, this is at least a nagging consideration in many people’s minds. Crises and tragedies always have a way of commanding our attention and reminding us that we are not as untouchable as we sometimes like to think we are. While this is not a pleasant thing to be reminded of, it is an important one, and I think there is much to be drawn from life-altering moments like these.

It may sound morbid, but I’ve been pondering the end of my life a lot lately. Going to funerals and grieving loved ones presents an invitation to look forward and think through what we usually try to avoid. As I’ve considered the measure of my days, and entered into conversations with God about them, some questions have surfaced for me:

What will the end of my time here look like?

What should it look like?

Will I have prepared for it, and thus leave those I love well equipped to take care of important matters and live on without me?

Will I have any regrets?

Will I have conveyed to those I love the things that are deep in my heart – the things I am meant to share with them?

What business needs to be carried out before then?

What needs to be said?

What needs to be mended?

Is there work left for me to do – work that cannot, or should not, wait?

Are there things I know I’m supposed to do, but haven’t, because I believe I still have plenty of time?

What if I don’t have as much time as I want to believe I have?

These questions aren’t rooted in fear, thankfully. I am not afraid of death, because I one hundred percent know that it has no power against me. I know it is merely a graduation from this life into the next, where I will enjoy the privilege of living with Jesus, and those who have gone before me, for eternity. So my questions are more deeply rooted in a desire to be certain that the remainder of my life here is completely aligned with God’s plans. I don’t want to waste any of it. I don’t want to deceive myself into thinking that I can just sit back, enjoy myself, and expect it all to magically end up looking like the canvas God has pre-painted for my life (sidenote – life can be enjoyable – and should be – while also being intentional and wisely stewarded).

People often say – and I used to casually agree – that God will have His way, no matter what. Things will just work out the way they’re supposed to, somehow, in the end. While there is some level of truth to this line of thinking (like the fact that God has appointed the day we are born and the day we will die, and fills our days with His providential care), I don’t completely agree that it’s a truth we can afford to mindlessly settle into. I have been a witness to far too many lives that I am quite certain did not work out the way God intended, and I don’t want to comfort myself anymore with a one-liner band-aid to cover up the tragedy of a life not lived to its fullness. I don’t want to arrive at the finish line of my own life and realize that, what I thought would happen all on its own, hasn’t.

I have sat with the dying who gave up on their hopes, and let their time slip away. I have grieved the loss of people whose time came much sooner than they – or anyone else – expected, and they left behind unfinished and sometimes untouched work. I have also sat beside those who had the blessing of foreknowing their day was approaching, and who took wise and careful steps to ensure that all their work was finished and all their desires were accomplished. It has caused me to think ahead about the life I’ve been given to live, and to make sure I do not die grieving the life I did not live.

I have books full of prophetic promises from God. Not because I’m special (well, I am special, but not more special than anyone else). I have these treasures because I have sought God and listened for Him to speak, and I have been purposeful to record the words He has spoken over me. I want my life to look like what He planned for it to when He created me. I understand that I am not the author of my own life. I am not creating my own script. Therefore, I need God’s direction in order to live out the plans He has for me. So I seek Him, and I hope daily to stay connected to Him as I walk out my days in this world.

I am nearing 45 years of age, and touting proverbial bags full of plans. I have spent years collecting these plans, and looking forward to what they will look like as they are laid down and lived in. I like to dream with God. He has incredible dreams for our lives! But I’ve been challenged, in pondering the brevity of life and considering the end of my own, to also consider how I might move from merely dreaming into building. In other words, there is a tug in my soul to do more than receive promises and look forward to seeing them fulfilled. I have the heightened sense that I can’t just sit on my comfy couch and hope to look up one day and see everything has been done while I was busy reading my books. God is surely ready to perform His plans, but I have a part to play in the establishment of them. I cannot just continue to sit and wait and daydream, and hope that, in the end, it will all magically morph into something amazing.

What does this look like in practical terms? I’m not completely sure, because this is a fresh consideration for me. What I know right now is that it involves more than merely living for today. That feels tricky for me, because I know I am not promised tomorrow. Yet, somehow, if there should be a tomorrow, I want to live today so that tomorrow is intentionally connected to what God is doing in today.

I also know that, where I have invested much time in reading other people’s wisdom and watching other people’s stories for inspiration, it’s time for me to start laying the tracks of my own inspirational journey. It’s time for me to stop drawing so much from other people’s wells and start pouring from my own.

This doesn’t mean I can’t read or watch edifying things anymore, or that I’m supposed to detach from community and embark on my own solo journey. It just means I need to adjust my focus and begin to partner with God and take responsibility for the promises I’ve been given. It’s time for me to put some work and time into taking the steps necessary to see God’s plans for my life established. It’s time to reappoint my time, and redirect my energy, into working toward what God has promised and wants to see accomplished in these remaining years of my life.

A good friend of mine put it bluntly but honestly once, and when she said it, I didn’t understand. She said she was at the point in her life where she didn’t need another conference or book or teaching. She needed to take what she had collected through all of those, and just begin to put it into practice.  I get it now. I love conferences. I love books. I love teaching that imparts truth. And while there will always be value in those, sometimes we can invest so much time in collecting things, but never do anything with them. Like Grandma’s china in the cabinet, it just sits and looks pretty, but never becomes a real part of the tapestry of our lives. It never, or rarely, blesses anyone else. It never becomes what it was intended to be: lived out and shared.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I have been blessed with a fresh perspective of the approaching end of the days we’ve been appointed to live. I realize you may not have the same perspective, and you may be toiling through another, different season with God. Stay where He has you, and engage with Him there. But take into consideration that there will be an end to your season, and then another will come after it, and all of them – woven together – are making up the story of your life.

In each season, pause to ask the Holy Spirit if you are living the life He intends for you to, and cooperating with the plans He has. Consider how what you’re doing each step of the way is contributing to the big picture He has for your life and your story. Ponder the end of your days and make preparations for them physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. Live in today, but live for the sum of all your days to add up to a life lived intentionally aligned with God’s plans.

May we live purposefully today and every day, and may our every endeavor be directed by God’s good hand and wise plans. May we leave nothing to chance, and learn what it means to live by faith that shows itself in the hard work of building a life worth leaving behind, that others may draw from our wise stewardship of the days we have been given. And may God bless us to be able to say, when the day of our graduation comes, that we are ready to go, because there is no life we did not live fully while we were here.

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


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