To what are you giving your life?
I'm not sure everyone faces this question, or even knows what it means. Certainly, it is easy to just live your life for reasons you assume are right and good. Without thinking about it or even being able to identify it, you get up every morning bent on giving your life. You move toward something. You are motivated by it. You commit to it over and over.
It might be your happiness, success or financial increase. It might be your family or a particular person that you love. It might be peace, comfort, or the absence of anxiety and responsibilities. (Just a week of that would be nice). It might be pleasure. Or it might be a self-centered "me, myself, and I" mentality. But you give your life to something every day, week, and year. What is it that ultimately drives you?
This blog is not about Memorial Day. But it is a great example of what I’m getting at.
This holiday is ultimately about something deeper than war, fighting, or even America. It is about a special group of individuals who were willing to completely give their lives for the people they loved and for people they did not even know - including you and me. Most of them were in their teens or early twenties.
They knew when they signed up there was a good chance that they would die. They were given to it. They paid the price of their futures, marriages, future children or using their gifts and talents to make a living and enjoy the fruit of it.
They lived with the sentence of death in their hearts.
They gave their life when they signed up. Then they marched to the frontlines and gave their life in death. And the ones who survived had done exactly the same thing. In their heart, they gave their lives; to the extent that afterwards, many of them did not know what to really live for anymore. Now that they had given it, they didn't know how to get it back. Some have lived aimlessly - but not because they are lazy or irresponsible. They had simply given their life completely to something, and have found nothing to match the depth of that measure of giving since.
I'm not sure we understand that kind of "life-giving" anymore.
My father was born between two world wars. He was in elementary school as thousands around him got on ships to go and die for the freedom of the whole world. It was a way of life that most everyone then understood. No wonder, when he became of age, he served in the Navy and then twenty years in civil service on a military base as a fireman. He did not fight on the front lines of a war or die in battle. But Daddy understood the concept of giving his life. He had learned it from those around him who had.
The apostle Paul once listed the level of sacrifice with which he lived his life. He said he was constantly in danger of death: beaten times without number, stoned, shipwrecked, in thirst and hunger, and was constantly attacked byenemies and people who used to be his friends. He was whipped with sharp metal 39 lashes the same as Jesus, except that happened to Jesus once. It happened to Paul five times.
Paul was no longer a military man, fighting in a war or defending the nation of his citizenship. He had certainly done that as a Roman soldier and defender of Israel. So what was he willing to give his life for that equaled or even exceeded the risks of fighting for his country?
What he said at the end of that dramatic exposé reveals the answer. He wrote, "Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern (love) for all the churches." (2 Cor. 11:28)
The hardships, the sacrifices, the unrelenting danger that sought to destroy him only identified the external consequences of what was deep within his heart; that is, to give His life so that others could discover the true life that was in Christ. He would give His life to the same cause for which Christ gave His.
Jesus gave His life, not just so that we would live forever, but so that we would have life. He gave life that we might have life.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." It was not just about "never dying," it was about having life and never losing it.
He not only gave it at the cross in death; He gave it when He signed up to live it. Jesus gave His life, and He has called us to do the same. So Paul was doing it. He knew for what he was giving his life. And it so motivated him that he would go to any extreme to give it.
It was not just a "cause." It was love. He had discovered the depth of the love of Christ in his own life and was compelled to give the same love to others that God had given Him. He had been given such a powerful life of love, it had to be given away.
This life, in Christ, made him a "life-giver."
The cry of my heart is to live like that. I know I’ve not always done so. But I'm still striving for it. How about you? Are you a life-giver?
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Let's change the world together!