People who make decisions based merely on what seems most advisable to them will inevitably choose something inferior to God’s best (p. 5).
Relying on what seems best to us does not mean we will enjoy the best life God has planned for us. The life God created us to enjoy has nothing to do with income and possessions, and everything to do with obedience and sacrifice. We can give our lives away chasing after the American Dream and in the end look back on our lives disappointed. Regret occurs in our lives, not because we didn't buy the right things, but because we didn't live the right way.
Here is the real shocker about life: the best life to live is found on the most difficult path to travel. Jesus did not die to make our lives comfortable and secure. Jesus died to make us truly alive! There is a huge difference between existing in the good life and living the full life. Don't merely opt for what seems most advisable and desirable to you, but pursue what God offers, even if it takes you very far from where you wanted to be.
One of the best know Proverbs reads; There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death (Proverbs 14:12; NET). In life we all have a path that seems to be right, that seems to be the path of good, but which only leads to regret and death. With our limited knowledge we can spend a life time trying to live life to the fullest and in the process waste our life. What a tragedy that would be!
I think a good example of this reality is Ernest Hemingway. From the time of his boyhood in Oak Park, Illinois, to those teenage summers in northern Michigan, he went after everything that life offered. He became a reporter for the Kansas City Star, served as an ambulance driver in World War I, spent years in Europe, and was intimately involved in the Spanish civil way. In whatever Hemingway did—sports, warfare, romance— he went for all of it. And, of course he was brilliant. He was a man who did it all.
Carlos Baker in the his biography about Hemingway wrote these words about Hemingway’s final moments:
Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red "Emperor's robe" and padded softly down the carpeted stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement. But the keys, he well knew, were on the window ledge about the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled dank as a grave. He chose a double-barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years of pigeon shooting. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine like entryway, five feet by seven, wit oak-paneled walls and floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just above the eyebrows and tripped both triggers. (1001 Great Stories and Quotes; p. 124)
Hemingway is an extreme example, not only in the way he ended his life, but also the gusto on how he pursued the life he wanted. For all his effort to live life Hemingway seemed to have missed it. His life ended with depression and illness so severe that it made life seem not to be worth living.
When we live our lives by doing what we think is best we end up missing the best God has planned for us. Instead of finding life we only discover death. Life is only found in listening to God and following Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses is Acts 20:24. In this passage Luke explained the apostle Paul's decision to go to Jerusalem, even though all of Paul's friends and companions told him not to go. They know that what waited for Paul in Jerusalem was nothing but persecution and prison. Paul called Ephesian Elders to remind them about all that he has done and the mission God has given to him. Then Paul says; 24 But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God's grace (NET). The value Paul found in life did not come for his ambitions and desires, but rather it was found in his relationship with God. It was this relationship which gave Paul's life meaning, the reason he had endured hardships in the past, and the reason he headed off to face persecution now. Paul lived his life to the fullest not by doing what seemed best to him, but by doing the work God had given him to do.
You can try to find the good life by doing what seems best to you, or you can find the full life by following Jesus. Those are your two options, but remember that only one leads to true life.
6 Jesus replied, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6; NET).
- Point to Ponder: The best life to live is found on the most difficult path to travel.
- Passage to Remember: Proverbs 14:12
- Question to Consider: How are you trying to live the good life?