I am so deeply obsessed with the fear of “wasting my life”. The words of so many sermons and bible lessons ring in my head often. As John Piper begs, so does my heart, “Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.” John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life. I tell myself, be intentional with your children. Be purposeful with your time. Be driven in the race set out before you. I think about it often. I pray about it sometimes, less often than I think about it, which is oddly backwards. And so it wears me out, which I know is indisputable evidence of me trying to do the thing all in my own flesh, for my own glory…a pattern that is doomed from the beginning.
I met someone once that through a casual conversation I voiced my tiredness and stressed-outness over such things. She responded with what she genuinely intended to be encouraging words by saying “sometimes we just have to be still and know that He is God”. I smiled and said “you’re right, I know” (and she is right), but I really just wanted to call her a jerk. But here’s the thing, I was just mad at her for calling a spade a spade. I was mad that she wouldn’t wallow in my pity party of pride. Because honestly, I don’t know how to do what she was suggesting. I don’t know how to be purposeful and still at the same time. How are we driven toward the goal, and restful at the feet of Jesus, all at the same time? I know all these scriptural truths are indeed true. I know this is an ever raging battle between grace and works, but sometimes my flesh is allowed to win out and truth temporarily becomes gray to me.
But then I think about what Piper means when he suggests that we don’t “waste our lives”. From a heavenly perspective, what would be a waste of the breath that God breathed into the mouth of man? Would it be talent unused? Sure. Would it be time and money poorly spent? Absolutely. But I can’t help but sense that such examples are superficial wounds that distract from a deeper, more life threatening cut. I can’t help but feel that we as God’s children are like surgeons putting a band-aid on a skinned knee, while the patient bleeds out from a cut to the jugular. There is a deeper tragedy in wasting your life than can be found in talents unused. This tragedy has nothing to do with self, but instead it has everything to do with the One that we are wasting. I recently heard someone say that we as God’s children are literally starving to death while we sit at a banquet table with a feast before us. Missing Him is the great waste! He is our great reward. He is the reason that wasting our life would be such a tragedy, because He is our first commandment. He is our great joy. Just Him. Just because of all that He is, not because of the joy and gifts that He brings. We will find fulfillment, purpose, and rest in the most critical thing that we were created to do “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. Piper says it like this, “He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” And that is where we will find a non-wasted life.
In my moments of panic when I find myself fretting that I am doomed to screw this life up beyond what I can fix, it would be wise for me to humbly remember that I already have. I already ate the apple, but thankfully, He also already crushed the serpents head. His greatness has made a way for me to be able to fulfill my purpose: to simply love and enjoy Him, and then wait on Him to show me ways that I can bring Him glory.
“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.” John Piper.
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