How easy is it, really, to feel the weight of being above ground sometimes? I don’t mean this in some melancholy funk; I simply mean that it is really easy to not see life as a gift, but rather as a heavy trial, full of burdens, pains, and hard work. For some (ok most), there might come a time where this problem or that problem or (fill in the blank) will no longer be always nagging, always something to deal with, but rest assured that thing will replaced by another thing. It’s tough sometimes.
So what do you do? You pull a great book off the shelf, full of godly wisdom and you remember. N.D. Wilson is one of my favorite authors and he says it quite masterfully, “Clichés are true. Time flies. You can’t take it with you. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Dust to dust.
In the ground, we all have empty hands.
Enjoy life now. And now. And now. Before the nows are gone. See the gifts. Savor the food, knowing that you will have to swallow.”
Far from being a call to YOLO though, he goes on…
“Some people are given more on this earth and some are given less. Some people spend their days in pain with bodies that keep the yearning front and center, that keep loss always in the mind’s eye. Widows. Orphans. The sick. The damaged (by birth or by man). Know this: God has special promises for you, and He loves bringing triumphant resolutions to those who have tasted the deepest sorrows. And this: Gratitude is liberation. We are all mortals, called into this narrative in this timestream without our consent. And we will all reach an end. See the gifts. And if they seem sparse, start counting. Omit nothing. Can you count that high? You may have less than others do, like the widow with two small coins in the temple. God had given her little, but what did she do with her little?
Grabbing will always fail. Hoarding always fails. Living to live always reaches inevitable and pointless Darwinian burnout—bigger fears, deeper mortal panic. Live to die. If you do, inevitable success awaits you. If you were suddenly given more than you could count, and you couldn’t keep any of it for yourself, what would you do? That is, after all, our current situation. Grabbing will always fail. Giving will always succeed. Bestow. Our children, our friends, and our neighbors will all be better off if we work to accumulate for their sakes. If God has given you a widow’s mite, let it go. Set it on the altar. If God has given you a greater banquet than you can possibly eat, let it go. Set it on the altar. Collect a ragtag crew and seat them. Don’t leave food uneaten, strength unspent, wine undrunk.”
If I could give a spoiler alert; that’s the theme for this entire book he wrote about a year ago. Your life was given to you to spend. So spend away, but not on yourself. Spend it for others. Spend it for the joy of others, and guess what happens? Your joy increases.
Using Christ as the Supreme Example, this has been laid out as the blueprint for us to follow. Flawed as we are, we can’t do this perfectly-but the charge is still there, spend your life for the good of others. Spend it till it’s empty.
Excerpt From: Thomas Nelson. “Death by Living.”