Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep. Acts 13:36
I read a statement the other day that really hit home. It said, “It is possible to waste your life.” Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I’ve known this to be true but this time it really spoke to me; to see it written on the page in bold font brought the frightening reality eerily close.
It’s easy to look around and see examples of what we consider a life wasted. The homeless person downtown sleeping on a park bench. The drug addict who lives only to score the next high. Or the teenager who commits suicide because life is hard and kids are mean.
But what if our safe, comfortable, and mundane lives are being wasted too?
I don’t know about you, but for me, most days are spent just surviving. I move through the motions of my monotonous activities, caught up in my “to-dos,” and failing to see much else apart from my normal routine. But what if there was a greater purpose for my life? For yours? Something beyond the mounds of laundry, house cleaning, and meal preparations. Something beyond our career choices, social get togethers, and parental duties. Something beyond even ourselves and our own selfish motivations.
The Bible tells us our lives matter. Have purpose. And that God has a plan for us! So what if we lived like this was true? What if we lived His plan for our lives rather than our own?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2
Did you catch the phrase, ‘the race marked out for us”?
I’ve run a number of races in my adult life. The courses are always determined in advance and clearly marked out. And just in case that’s not enough, there are volunteers stationed throughout cheering you on, ensuring you’re headed in the right direction.
Is this an indication of God’s plan for my life? The course determined in advance? The direction clearly marked? Are friends and loved ones scattered throughout, encouraging me on? Guiding me in the right direction if I start to stray?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
These are Paul’s words in Ephesians. He’s telling us that God has a plan for us and as we grow in Spiritual maturity, as we seek Him first, we are transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ and His work becomes evident in us. We begin to bear fruit in His name. His light and His love begin to shine through. And we start building into His Kingdom instead of our own. This is our good work: living for His glory not ours; choosing to live boldly so Christ is seen in all we do; and sharing His message for all to hear. Paul lived this well.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Philippians 1:21-22
For Paul, just living wasn’t an option. He wanted a life with purpose. He wanted a life that wasn’t wasted. He wanted to bear fruit. Each day was going to count. Each day would be lived to the full. Each day he would choose to die to himself and live for what really matters instead, Christ, and Christ alone.
I want the same! But somewhere in the busyness of my day and the realities of my short-comings my focus gets stuck on me. I get so caught up in my plans and what’s right in front of me that I fail to see and even look for God’s markers and promptings in my life. I veer off course without even realizing it because I forget to live intentionally. Instead of inviting others in, instead of proclaiming the ‘Good News,’ I hide behind my fears and insecurities, not wanting to step out of the comfortable and safe into the unknown.
And with this me-focus I fail to look up and out at a world in need. I miss what God wants me to see. I miss the joy He has in store for me. I waste the life I was meant to live.
Do you hear Paul’s words? Let nothing move you! Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord! Paul understood that nothing compares to the privilege of knowing Christ Jesus. Nothing holds a candle to the joy that comes from serving Him with an undivided heart. Nothing is worth more than a life lived fully for the Lord.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
And so, I have a choice. Will I set aside my own agenda for His? Will I continue absent-mindedly moving through my “to-do” list or will I look for ways God is asking me to come follow Him? Will I turn my focus from all I have to do today to what do You have in store for me today, Lord? And will I move beyond my fears and insecurities and step out in obedience?
This might mean inviting my neighbor, who is broken and hurting and doesn’t know the Lord into a house that didn’t get cleaned today. It might mean skipping my morning workout schedule to call that someone God has placed on my heart. It might mean stepping outside my routine and even my comfort zone to recognize the need around me.
We cannot live for Him when we are living for ourselves. We all have a ministry to fulfill in this lifetime. Like David, God has a purpose for us right here in our own generation. He wants to shine through us so we can shine bright in a darkened world. He wants us to share the Bread of Life with those who are hungry. And He wants His Living Water to overflow in us and spill onto all who thirst for something more.
Friends, He calls us to be His witnesses! The ones who tell, “this is what I know, this is what I saw, this is what is true!” To proclaim His message for all to hear and live it for all to see. We are His hands and feet here on this earth entrusted with the gospel in order to share it. He doesn’t care if our house is clean, our laundry is done, or we have the perfect meal plan for the week. It doesn’t matter to Him that our ‘to-do’ lists are neatly checked off or we have a successful career plan mapped out. What will matter is what I did with what and who He entrusted to me. The same is true for you. And at the end of the day, when all is said and done, may each of us hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:23
Let’s not waste what we’ve been given. Life is short. Let’s make it count. Abundant joy awaits us as we step out in obedience.