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How Then Shall We Live?

Reflecting on life in your third decade is a challenge. Youthful joys and revelry often are the first memories to be recalled. That winning touchdown in high school…that one girl who kissed you back…those two weeks backpacking Ireland…fun points in time that make you smile and even laugh in placid content knowing that no one can go back and change those few good things.

What comes next for many is accomplishment. Your long-awaited college acceptance letter…that grant proposal that started it all…asking her to marry you and the tearful acceptance…getting the job you pointed at on your first day and promised yourself to attain. Strong moments of pride that you can and still do surprise yourself and everyone around you with what your unbridled passion and determination can accomplish.

And don't we all wish it ended there.

Joy and pride in our past, assured of future reoccurrence. But linger on those moments of joy a touch longer. Remember when your best friend made fun of you at lunch that day before the game? Remember when that girl kissed you and then the next day started going out with the biggest asshole on your football team and you had to see them every day for a year? Remember why you ditched your summer work plans and ran away to Ireland for two weeks to get away from the pain of your best friend dying? Motivation from pain. A good thing, but souring when considered too long.

And yet, it doesn't end there, does it.

Now we get to regret and shame. The “how could I have been so foolish,” “oh God no one will ever forgive me for,” and most crippling of all…”please don't let them find out.” No matter how hard you try, these are the things you shut out as long as you can until the all consuming grief of false alacrity plunges you into the abyss of true, deserved depression.

You deserve to feel the pain you've caused. You deserve to be embarrassed for your sins. You deserve whatever you choose to let go of because how dare you try to do something with your life after THAT.

Amazing how single points in our incredibly short timelines can be any of these things, and yet so much of it is…gone.

Joy, pride, shame…and nothing. Do you remember everything you wore or ate or traveled from age 6-35? No, but you remember that road trip to your grandparents when you were 6. You remember that cute sundress you wore for Easter when you were 9. You remember that girl cheating on you when you were 19 and the guilt of going tit-for-tat to get back at her.

Single points in time that, in your memory, define your life…scattered along a desert of daily monotony.

So how then shall we live (to borrow from Francis Schaeffer, which if you haven't experienced you must)? Dragging our lives along through the mud of mediocrity to squirrel away enough for the next 4-night cruise to the same place you've already been 3 times?

Blowing every dollar you have on the finest things you can get your hands on so you're not “wasting your life in waiting” and watching your interest payments rise exponentially each time you try to spend your way out of depression?

Do you know what comes next? There’s one point in the timeline no one can avoid, no matter how long they think they're pushing it out. And you can't push it out.

Are you still living for points on a timeline and a handful of great stories or have you grown up and made life….your life. Is every day something that matters to you and those around you? Have you found a purpose or a place that has made your collection of past points irrelevant because every day is one you want to remember?

Time to think bigger picture.

Easter has just come and gone and I'm reminded not just of a man who was beaten and died on a cross, but of the metaphysical meanings of that sacrifice and my own part in it. Our childhood bible story books show Jesus stepping out of the tomb, stone rolled away, and only pierced hands and feet to show for his suffering just days earlier.

Even Mel Gibson fell into this visualization in The Passion of The Christ. And it's nice, right? Everything's all better now, we're forgiven and Jesus is back to how He was, let's move on.

But that's not what the Bible says. The women at the tomb didn't recognize Him. The disciples didn't recognize Him. People had to stare for several minutes before they could figure out who He was and Revelation 5:6 tells us why:

“And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain…”

Our limited understanding of what Jesus’ coming to Earth in human form and dying on our behalf, taking on the entirety of humanity’s sin…what that meant for Him on the extradimensional side of things…we have no idea what He actually gave up.

For us. For you.

Chuck Missler said (paraphrasing) “I weep at how I can add nothing to my own salvation, but can only daily add to his suffering that day.”

A single point in a timeline, with an impact going back to the beginning, forward to the end, and into a universe we cannot understand. A single point that overwrites all your points.

Wake up, accept His grace, and know that when you see Him descending on the clouds…he won't be a perfect being of light. He will be a scarred, disfigured man who bore our iniquity and felt every temptation and pain we could ever feel and He will be the perfect judge in whose hands your life will be weighed.

How then shall you live?

1 Comment

Apr 17, 2023

Excellent piece, thank you.

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