Someone I follow on Instagram recently posted a picture, and below the picture, she quoted this excerpt from N.D. Wilson's book, Death by Living (which you better believe is next on my reading list!) I keep going back to it, day after day, reading and rereading it, and all I can think is, if only I could live this out...and how can I live this out? I want, oh how I want to live this out! Read it for yourself...
"Lay your life down. Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded.
Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can.
You have bones, make them strain-you can carry nothing in the grave.
You have lungs, let them spill with laughter...
I have 250,000 conscious hours remaining to me in which I could be smiling or scowling, rejoicing in my life, in this race, in this story, or moaning and complaining about my troubles.
I can be giving my fingers, my back, my mind, my words, my breaths,
to my wife [husband] and children, and my neighbors,
or I can grasp after the vapor and the vanity for myself, dragging my feet, afraid to die
and therefore afraid to live. And, like Adam, I will still die in the end.
Living is the same thing as dying. Living well is the same thing as dying for others."
N.D. Wilson from Death by Living
Call me crazy, but I just can't get these beautiful words out of my head. You have hands, blister them...bones, make them strain.........I can be giving (my whole self) to my husband and children, and my neighbors, or grasping after the vapor and vanity for myself...afraid to die and therefore afraid to live......
Words like this inspire me as I fall into bed at night. They are equally inspiring in the morning, when I'm rested, refreshed, sitting with my Bible in hand, making goals for the day and feeling unstoppable with a fresh cup o' joe in my hand.
They grow less inspiring and more guilt producing as the day wears on and life happens. It's so easy to be inspired while doing nothing...easy to be inspired when you're sitting in the quiet of the day, whenever that may be for you, talking to God, letting the Spirit speak to you. But then kids wake up, the car doesn't start, your back hurts, maybe you have a killer headache. Your agenda takes over, and in the midst of getting your agenda complete, your focus turns inward. It's natural...it's human nature.
We are comfort seekers. We avoid pain and discomfort at almost any cost, and this makes us blind to the greater needs of those around us.
I truly believe that God gives us multiple opportunities every day to make a difference in others' lives, and that these opportunities easily slip by without us even realizing it. I also believe that the more we start to notice and obey His promptings, the more He will bring our way, and THAT, that is where we can start to look back and see a life well lived. Not a life lived "grasping after the vapor and vanity for myself"...a life wasted.
We only have one life to live. There are no do-overs. I don't want to be constantly grasping for that which does not matter (more stuff, nicer stuff, more status, greater recognition, the perfect body/wardrobe/haircut, etc.), never satisfied with what God's given me or where he's placed me.
I want to be so focused on what matters that I literally forget myself and my little aches and worries and so-called problems, and that I have the strength and will to sacrifice my comfort for the sake of living out the greatest commands: Loving God and Loving Others. Because really, that's all that matters in this life.
I want to challenge everyone reading this to stop right now, to ask yourself what a life lived like that described in the quote would look like for you personally. Where does your focus lie, and in what areas does your focus need to shift? What tangible things can you do to make life about others, instead of grasping in vain for things that you can't take with you when this life ends?