“There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak . . .” Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7a
I’ve been silent for a while on this blog. For many months there were no words, at least no words I cared to print. My journal is full of words and emotions that should stay in the journal, on pages hidden away. No one wants to read those kinds of words.
But once again, it is time to speak.
With only minutes of January left on this year’s calendar, I think of other Januarys.
The first month of each year used to afford me the opportunity to write out goals. I enjoyed the process and became good at it. There were categories to my goals: spiritual, career, ministry, home projects, gardening, health, and financial. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to check off an item when it was completed. At year’s end, I analyzed my list to determine how many of my goals I had met. It was a measuring line for me. Was I doing OK? Was I spending this life well?
Last year, I didn’t write any goals. Sweet William’s health continued uncertain, requiring surgeries, medicines, long hours of care-giving, and I just didn’t have the time or the energy for lists, plans, goals.
Life still happened to us. Did it ever. My main objective became simply to keep up and to somehow get enough rest to start the process all over the next day.
At the end of 2012, there was no measuring line for me to gauge my success for the year. Except that journal with all those words unspoken.
The journal reflected that I sometimes (dare I admit it?) had a less than positive attitude. Too often I had been cross and irritable. I had said unkind words. I had grown impatient. I had bewailed my situation and felt sorry for myself. I had been very poor in spirit.
That’s what my journal said.
So 2013 begins, and I am presented once again with the opportunity to list goals and set about to fulfilled them.
But really, does the checking off of a list of things completed, my accomplishments, give a fair judgment of a life well lived?
I remember what was written about Jesus by Dr. James Allen Francis in an essay called One Solitary Life.
“He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born.”
Yet who on this earth ever had such a lasting impression on humanity?
I must conclude, then, that when life is all said and done and people stand around my grave site, it will not be the goals I reached that will matter. It will not be how much money I made or saved or invested. It will not be about houses and lands I owned. It won’t be how far up the career ladder I went. It will not be how well traveled I was or how many Bible studies I led.
What will count is whether I lived my one solitary life in the Father’s will and for His glory. Did I complete His plan? Did I fulfill His purpose?
Scripture instructs me to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. It says in another place that I am to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.
Those commands are not exactly a concrete list of do’s and don’t’s I can write down in a nice neat list and then check off when completed. It is so much more than that. It is purposeful living moment by moment, a daily surrender, a joyful obedience. It is a life filled with the grace of God, a cup running over so that it spills into the saucer and drips over the side and onto the table, and it cannot help but saturate those close by.
This is no ordinary bucket list. And I wonder how it will be accomplished.
Paul, the apostle, wrote this truth to the church at Galatia:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (2:20 NIV, emphasis added)
Crucified. Dead to my own wants and desires. Christ’s breathe breathing in the fresh wind of the Spirit who knows how to do the Father’s will. His heart beating mine with tender compassion. My hands and feet an extension of His. Living my faith not living my feelings.
Jesus said this: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows.” (John 10:10 Amp.)
I perceive life is a gift to be received with open heart, open hands, to be enjoyed in joy. It’s measure will be summed up when I hear longed-for words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things . . . “