Why I don’t wish for a long life, but a full one
Several years ago, I was reading the Journals of Jim Elliot, a modern day marytr of the Christian faith who died while trying to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an uncivilized tribe in the remote jungles of Ecuador. I came across these thought-provoking words penned not long before he died in January 1956: “I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”
I sat on my bed and I paused at those words. They made me really think about how I was spending my life. I asked myself: “am I really living this time I have been given on this earth to the fullest?” From that day onwards, I began to take my Christian faith and service in the kingdom of God more seriously.
Our Lord was only on this earth for 33 years – three of which were spent in ministry – and yet in those few short years, he made a massive impact on this planet – in fact, the greatest impact that anyone in the entire history of the world could ever make. Right from the start it was clear that his earthly purpose was to do the will of His Father (John 6:38).
In the same way, as children of God we have a purpose on this earth: to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:17), to be ‘salt and light’ (Matt 5:13-16) and to make a difference in the immediate world around us.
Statistics tell us that 154,000 people around the globe die every single day. That comes down to 107 people a minute or two per second! At some point down the track, each one of us will wind up this earthly, mortal existence in a wooden box, ‘six feet under’. That could be tonight, tomorrow or in 60 odd years time but one thing is certain: IT. WILL. HAPPEN. That’s a fact. It’s reality. It’s inescapable.
We have but one short life to live and then it is past. Like the wind it comes and is gone. Like the flame of a candle it flickers and then is no more. It is snatched away from us in the twinkling of an eye.
God never planned for death to be the fate of mankind. But because of the entrance of sin into this world, all of us will have to face death. Some of us will live longer than others, but each one of us is going to die.
For some, that is a frightening thought because it drives home just how poorly we are spending the little time that God has given to us on this earth. And we think the greatest tragedy is when someone dies young. While this is an extreme tragedy, I don’t think it is the ultimate tragedy. To spend a life lived to its entire length wasting those precious moments God has gifted to you is what I call a tragedy.
Some people think that the ultimate goal of this earthly existence is a long life. However, what actually matters is not the amount of time you have on this planet, but how it’s spent. Are you spending it on meaningless computer games, sports and Snapchat or are you doing things that change the world for the better?
When I talk about changing the world, I’m talking about being radical. After all, Christ was radical. He did things that were what we call ‘counter-cultural’ – that is, things that are contrary to the status quo – the world’s ungodly way of thinking.
To be a child of God means to dedicate your life totally to the kingdom of God, living out the truths of God, for the glory of God. Yes there will be times of pain, distress, hardship, persecution and doubt, but in the end, it is totally worth it all to live, serve and suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ.
We don’t need length to make an impact on this earth. We need fullness. We need quality time spent doing the work of God providing love, help and compassion to the lonely, needy, brokenhearted and dejected, evangelising and being ‘salt and light’ in our homes, schools, circles of friends and colleagues, churches, communities and the nation as a whole.
Let me leave you with the challenging words of the great evangelist C.T. Studd: “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” So, live each day to its fullest. Do things that actually count in the eternal scheme of things. Please don’t waste your life!
Ephesians 5:16 “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”