Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Fleetingness of Life

There are two reasons I want to write about this topic this afternoon. Actually there are three. Although I tend to discredit social media as being too much of a distraction, admittedly it provides a very vital resource from time to time. This morning I learned that another classmate of my 2007 high school graduating class has died. That makes 3 (maybe more?) in 5 years. These people were only 23-24 years old. All of them have been male. And it's been tragic. I have not been able to attend any of their memorial services or funerals, but I would assume that there were kind words spoken of each of them, memories that were shared, and love expressed in abundance from family and friends. And yet, there is still sadness that fills my heart when I think of these young lives (the same age as myself) and how they've ended.

The second reason I want to write about this topic, the fleetingness of life, is that I just began a book that challenges the typical idea of the American dream in our churches. The book, written by a young pastor in Alabama, seeks to engage church members and Christians with the notion of taking Jesus' words about discipleship at face value. Though I am only a chapter or two into the book, his words have been enlightening, inspiring, and convicting all at the same time. My hope in reading this book is that I will be instilled with a burden for people who do not have the hope of Jesus Christ and a vision toward the riches I will receive in heaven for giving that hope to others.

Lastly, the third reason I want to write about this topic is that I have realized there are very few things in life that I want to do more than be a faithful wife and mother, and teach women the Bible. And I want to ask myself (and others) the question: are you seeking with all your heart to do what God has called you to?

Since I have not experienced the tragedy of losing a young family member, it is difficult for me to fathom or grasp the grief that grips those who have. I have been fortunate enough to live as long as I have (a mere 23 years) and know that there are days when I take my life for granted. It is when I am faced with the reality of death that I contemplate one thing: my hope. What is my hope? My hope began at age 19, when for the first time, I surrendered my life to the lordship of Jesus Christ and was given the gift of salvation and eternal life with God. Since that day, I look back and think, "What if I had died before then?" I do believe that I would have suffered the consequences for my sin: eternal death and separation from God forever. And that is a real tragedy. To think that anyone apart from new life in Christ who dies will be separated from God and from eternal joy and pleasure forever; that is a daunting thought. I hope that it would be a daunting thought for anyone who knows the Lord, and has the opportunity to share him with others; not only are we commanded to do this but it is our privilege and joy to do so. And this is a very real challenge for me.

In David Platt's book, Radical, he asks his readers if we are truly hearing the words of Jesus and if so, are we obeying them? Am I obeying them? For the entirety of my Christian life, I have been comfortable enough to sit in air conditioned (and heated) church buildings in nice clothes with my study Bible in tow. Nothing is wrong with that of course, but have I been burdened for people who have absolutely none of that? Honestly, very rarely. I have been content to accept all forms of teaching that I have received: theological books, commentaries, sermons via mP3, and conferences. I have thrived in church settings where I have been well fed by pastors who know how to exegete passages and explain them to the hearts of their congregations. And I have been truly thankful to the Lord for these privileges. But, but, what next? What do I do with the knowledge I have gained and continue to gain? What is the appropriate response and what does that look like for me? It is one thing to have all knowledge, and not love - for that is to be puffed up. It is another thing to have a whole lot of knowledge and teach others - for that yields a great reward.

Over the past few months, God has been working in my life a deep desire for two things: motherhood and teaching women the Bible. Additionally, Chance and I have made the decision (as I have previously posted) to seek to become parents. That decision was made with much prayer and finally asking the question: Is my career and being comfortable really worth putting off children for another few years? Deep down my desire for be a mother had been increasing and often I had the thought, "If I were to die in a year, what would I have rather done? Had a child or continued working?" For me the answer was crystal clear. Also in the last few months, I have finally been able to fulfill the latter desire (teaching) in our local church context here in Dallas. I love teaching, speaking in public especially, and I believe that God has gifted me in this area. I find it an immense privilege to teach middle and high school students the Scriptures, because as I reflect on my own life, at that age, I know how deeply I could have used the Word of God to reveal the truth about my heart and my life situation. I want to feed young girls the meat of Word so that they become mature disciples of Christ, who love God and who want to make an impact in our culture. Already I have seen my burden increasing specifically for this and I pray that it would increase all the more in the future.

So what am I saying? "To live is Christ, to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21) We only have one life to live, one lifetime to come to a knowledge of the truth, and one opportunity to either gain the whole world yet lose our souls (Mark 8:36) or "have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). And then it is over and we will spend life eternally with God, or apart from Him. It is a sobering reality that I hope would cause us all to examine our lives and ask ourselves a few simple questions.

1) Do I know God, and Jesus Christ who he sent? (i.e. do I have eternal life? [John 17:3])
2) Am I living like I am hearing Jesus' words and obeying them? (Luke 14:27)
3) Am I seeking with all of my heart to do what God has called me to? (Galatians 2:20-21)

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." -James 4:13-14

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