Someone has said, “It is not the days in a life, but the life in the days that is important.” Think about that for a moment.
I have always peddled myself as an “Optimistic Octogenarian,” and I believe, for the most part, that is true. O, am I ever down in the dumps? Do I ever feel sorry for myself? Of course I do! However, I have discovered that it takes far less emotional energy to be happy than to grovel around in self pity. If I have to vote, I will vote for “happy” every time, and I am all for conserving emotional energy.
During these strange, long months of virtual isolation, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life and the way I have lived these almost 85 years. Now I ask myself, “Have I lived my life to the fullest?” You know without my saying that, at times I have failed, and I have certainly suffered disappointments.
I grew up knowing that God had a purpose for my life. I imagined that I would marry a preacher. I would sing, and iron his shirts, and stand beside him on Sunday morning to shake hands with the parishioners. I dreamed of wedding gowns and chubby babies, but to my disappointment that did not happen. What do you do when your dream doesn’t come true? Life doesn’t come to a standstill, so you do what seems best. I finished college and taught school, thinking all the time that I was making my own decisions. However, God knew me, and my desire. Even when I was unaware, He was in control helping me to gain training and experience that He could use in the ministry He had planned for me in Europe and around the world.
During those early years when I was struggling trying to find my way, God sent a mentor to counsel me. This man had my number. Up to that point, I was the center of my universe. It was all about me, me, and me. I associated with people who made me feel good about myself not really having time for anyone else. This godly mentor made me aware of the needy all around me. He showed me what it meant to be vulnerable, to care about others. From that moment, my life began to change, and I found myself looking at the world through different lenses. I began to fall in love with people. Only then could God use me to make a positive difference in their lives.
These intervening years have been an interesting, exciting, active, sometimes scary, difficult, rewarding, uncertain, blessed, and joyful journey. I have tried with everything in me to be faithful and obedient to the Lord, and I have been true to who I am standing up for what I believe.
It is not a good idea to compare yourself and your successes or failures to other people, but I can’t help but think of the prophet Elijah.
James 5:17 tells us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” In other words, naturally, he was as weak and sinful as we, but Elijah was faithful to God and God used his life to minister to Israel. I think it is right to say that Elijah lived life to the fullest.
There are three things we must know before we can live a full life.
- Know your Creator. Know Him intimately. Cultivate a close relationship with Him.
John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” There is no full and abundant life outside of him.
- Know how you were created.
Psalm 139:14, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” You are unique—one of a kind with different gifts, talents and abilities. Figure out your spiritual gifts and talents. Know yourself and be yourself.
- Know why you were created. No one is an accident or mistake. You were designed for a purpose. That purpose is not a secret.
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Don’t live your life in blissful ignorance of your purpose. Anything you do outside your purpose is not your best or fullest life.
This morning I read a story about a 92 year old woman, who has lived her life to the fullest. Having lost her husband of 70 years, she found it necessary to move into a senior care facility. Questioned about whether or not she was happy with this big transition, she said, “Whether or not I like something doesn’t depend on how it is arranged. It depends on how my mind is arranged. I have a choice. I can either complain about what I don’t have or be thankful for what I do have. At my age, each day is a gift. I’ll focus on each new day and all the happiness I have deposited in my bank account of memories.”
A full life does not necessarily depend upon success, as the world defines it. It does not require a pocket full of gold, a mansion on the hill or a Rolls Royce. A full life depends upon my relationship with God, and my willingness to follow His custom designed plan for me.
ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE TO THE FULL?
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!