Friday, April 16, 2010

Living God's Best

We cannot see into the future. There is just no way to accurately predict what will happen in the future and if the plans we have worked so hard on will happen. Life is too unpredictable to be positive that the life we are working to create is actually the best life we could enjoy.

Relying on just what seems best to us does not mean we will enjoy the best life God has planned for us. The life God has planned for us has nothing to do with income and possessions, and everything to do with purpose and significance. We can give our lives away chasing after the "American Dream" and in the end look back on our lives and be disappointed. Regret occurs in our lives, not because we didn't buy the right things, but because we didn't pursue our purpose.

Here is the shocker: the best life is found on the most difficult path. We need to remember that Jesus did not die to make our lives comfortable and secure, rather 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 home.

Proverbs 14:12 reads; There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death (NLT). 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 fullest" and in the process waste that life we wanted to cherish.

I think a good example of this 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 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 shrinelike 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 (Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story).

Hemingway is an extreme example, not only in the way he ended his life, but also the gusto that he what he wanted. For all his effort to live life Hemingway seemed to have missed it. His life ended with depression and illness that made life seem not to be worth living any longer.

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. Here Luke is explaining about the Apostle Paul's decision to go to Jerusalem, even though all of Paul's friends and companions have told him not to go. They know that what waits Paul in Jerusalem is nothing but persecution and prison. Paul reminds the Ephesian Elders, who are with him, all that he has done and the mission God has given to him. Then Paul says; But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus‚the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love (NLT). 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 doing what seemed best to him, but 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 know before hand that only one leads to true life. Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me (John 14:6; NLT).

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