If We Stop Living, We Start Dying
Let me ask you a personal question: How do you feel about getting older? Age has been on my mind recently, because I hit the big “5-0” not long ago, and I’m not far from being an empty nester. I remember when my dad was fifty, and that seemed . . . old.
Poet Wendell Berry writes in his brief poem, Seventy Years, “Well, anyhow, I am not going to die young.”
My granddad, who preached for many years, once told me the story of an older woman approaching him after his sermon on heaven, and she said, “My only fear is that all of my friends who are there will think I didn’t make it!”
Growing old isn’t for sissies. The biggest challenge I find is to shift into a higher gear where I can keep accelerating and not begin to coast. Rest stops along the way help replenish our souls, but they are not intended for permanent residency. Inertia leads to entropy. If we stop living, we start dying.
The world around us continues to change, and at times we find it difficult to change with it. Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “The longer I live, the more my world is populated by strangers. My parents, my teachers, my colleagues, have disappeared all around me, and with their departure, my sense of sharing the same coherent universe also vanishes” (The Revelatory Body, 212).
Do you ever find yourself looking back more than looking ahead? I do. Although it’s helpful to remember the past, we shouldn’t long for it while we simply wait for mortality to achieve its goal.
Wake up each morning with anticipation of what God is going to do this day, and commit to join Him. In God’s way and time, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), and we choose to live out those days with gumption, not “grump-tion.”
A former professor of mine, Bob Hull, once wrote, “Every life is only a ‘first draft,’ which awaits its final form in God’s future.” Let’s make the first draft one that’s worth reading, and then we will await its final form. Let’s not waste our time waiting now, for much is yet to be written.
Philip Yancey tells the story of a woman whose grandmother lies buried beneath a 150-year-old oak tree in a cemetery outside a church in rural Louisiana. “In accordance with the grandmother’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone: WAITING” (The Jesus I Never Knew, 275).
Let’s save our waiting for the final form in God’s future. Let’s write the first draft of our lives in the here and now, for these days will be gone soon enough, and then “we will fly away” (Psalm 90:10).