I just spent three minutes staring at my computer screen while it was in Screensaver mode. I watched as pictures of places I have been and people I have met, gently appeared and disappeared on and off the screen. And I thought how blessed I was, how much I have enjoyed the life I have lived so far, how much I’m looking forward to what’s coming next in my life.
And maybe it’s because of the book I’m reading, or the fact we are now in my birthday month, and this time around I’ll turn thirty (I know, I’m OLD! And I’m YOUNG!) but the thought, “What exactly does it mean to LIVE?” crossed my mind. I know it’s kind of a cliché thought. Just about everyone who is anyone has written on this topic, so I’m not being overly original here. But the question has been circling around my head for a couple of hours now, and I can’t seem to focus on anything else. So, here goes!
So, define Living . Having recently re-taken sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science, I KNOW there are four or six different requirements, or tests, to see if something is alive. Yep. Really did retake those classes. And yes, there really ARE requirements to know whether or not something is alive. Don’t ask why I had to re-take middle school science. Honestly. Not the point.
But I think a person can pass all those requirements with flying colors and not be Living.
For me, Living is NOT simply having a form of sorts and breathing. That counts for plants and animals and other various ‘live’ organisms that I can’t think of. But, as bearers of God’s reflection, I think our definition has a few more requirements.
I think Living is more than simply having great experiences. For instance, some people have these bucket lists (Apparently some people have lists of stuff to do before they turn 30. Huh. Didn’t do that). Now, since I’ve never created one of these lists, I could be wrong, but my assumption is that they think it’s okay to die if they’ve completed everything on their list. Like, completing everything on that list means they’ve really Lived. So, accomplishing certain tasks, or seeing certain things, or experiencing certain experiences means you’ve lived? Well, what about all the people who didn’t have the resources to bungee jump off the Golden Gate Bridge? Have they still Lived? Or how about the people who never tried eating a cricket? Or cow’s brains? Have they really Lived? How about the women who never gave birth? And, for that matter, all the men who didn’t either(like, all of them, right)? Have they Lived? If I never travel to the South Pole (NO THANKS!) will I not have truly Lived?
I don’t think so. I think a person can never leave a mile-radius of where they were born and still Live.
I also think people can travel the world, get married, have kids, climb to the top of the Eiffel tower, zip-line off the Great Wall of China, eat green tomato minced pie (YUCK) and NOT have Lived.
I honestly think you have to go back to the Bible in order to really Live (don’t freak out, I’m not asking you to pull out your robe, sandals and staff from the Christmas pageant). I think you specifically have to look at why we’re here, which means looking at what Jesus commanded us to do while on this planet. And Jesus said, in Matthew 22, verses 37 through 39 that the greatest commandment (So, the most important thing He asked us to do while on earth) is to “Love the Lord your God with your entire heart, with your entire soul and with your entire mind.” And in the very next breath, He said to, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Now, if you do this, if you follow this commandment, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in foreign countries, or eating weird food (seriously – white lasagna is WEIRD), or even getting married some day. There is just as good of a chance, though, that you’ll end up living in the same town you grew up in, working at the grocery store a couple blocks over, and getting to know everyone who comes through that grocery line. And that’s okay. That’s fine. That’s brilliant really.
Because you’ll get to know those people really well. You’ll learn how to best love them. And that’s the commandment! To LOVE. In a deep, caring-about-you-more-than-me sort of way.
And people who love like that – they have rich, full, fulfilling lives. Promise. They might go to New Zealand some day, they might not. It doesn’t matter so much, because that inner desire that is buried so deep within each and every human on the planet to not waist our time here (I know it might not seem like everyone has this desire, but they do – some just chose to ignore it) is fulfilled.
So, my conclusion – if you Love God with everything in you, and if you sacrificially love your neighbor, you are, indeed, Living.
Go Live your life, wherever God leads it! Go Live it abundantly (that means Love LOTS of people well)!
Buckle up, it’s going to be quite the ride.
Oh, afterthought – I have nothing against bucket lists. When God has given us this amazing planet, and the means to travel it, we should probably do that to some extent. It helps you get to know Him better. And if you need a list to help you remember all you want to do, that’s fine. Make lists. I would LOVE to see the Northern Lights some day before I die, and I want to visit Ireland, and I want to hike the Camino De Santiago in Spain. But I’m not going to feel like I got gypped if I die before those things happen. After all, when God renews this earth, and makes all things new – those experiences might be ten times better.