Zach is a young man who lived with Stacy and I, for a time, when he was in high school. Whenever Zach got exasperated, he would put his hands in the air and exclaim, “Ah, life!” It was his way of acknowledging that sometimes, the day to day responsibilities and necessities of life were, in a word, inconvenient. A conversation between Zach and I might go,
Me: “Of course, Zach, you can totally go and hang out with your buddies after school.”
Zach: “Awesome! Thanks PT”
Me: “You do have all your homework done, right?”
Zach: “Ah, Life!”
How right Zach is. Doesn’t it sometimes seem that the requirements of life impede our ability to actually enjoy life? Who wouldn’t rather hang with their friends than do homework? Play is always more fun.
Recently, I read a list that gave several markers to identify that you’ve reached adulthood. One of the markers was, “You can’t remember the last time you weren’t at least a little bit tired”. Unfortunately, that rings more true that many of us would like to let on, I’m sure.
As many of you know, I’ve visited weekly with B.J. Smith for the past two and a half years as he sat in jail awaiting his trial. I’ve also been very open that I believe he was wrongly convicted and that his ten year sentence simply adds to the sadness of a tragic event. How this robs his elderly parents of his support and care is even more tragic still.
As Zach might say, “Ah, life!” Truly, it can seem so overwhelming at times.
All of humanity throughout history has felt like this at times. Even the Apostle Paul once wrote about it, as he had come to a point where his own struggles with life had left him simply feeling done with everything:
“…And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.”
Paul had worked hard for God, and he was just tired with life. Later in the book of Timothy, he wrote write that he had been “poured out like a drink offering” which is to say he was running on empty. But he wasn’t running on empty for no reason – he had a great purpose in life: to share the hope and love of Christ with all who would listen. There is no greater purpose. Paul is content to pass from this world because he is convinced the next one is better. He is able to exert and exhaust himself here, because he has the hope of there.
May we all have such great perspective. Not that we treat our lives here as worthless, or meaningless, but that we understand that our purpose is about so much more than merely our own lives. “Ah, life” indeed, when we think in terms of life everlasting, life with Christ, life abundantly lived and celebrated in unending joy.
Wherever life finds you now, may you live it in joy and with purpose and in service to Christ.
- Pastor Tim
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
1 Philippians 1:27-30
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 edition of the FBC newsletter. Click here to view the rest of this newsletter.