A Life Worth Living
The Ability to See the Unseen
What is it that transforms an ordinary person into someone who makes an extraordinary impact upon the society in which he or she lives? How does one become a ‘change agent’ in his or her respective spheres of influence? I believe the missing ingredient is one of vision: the ability to see the unseen. I’m talking about the ability to weigh life’s various choices on the scales of eternity. We need to ask ourselves the question, “What is it that takes first place in our lives? Who sits on the throne of our hearts? What do we treasure on earth? What do our hearts cling on to the most? Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21).
I have come under the conviction that all our early religious activity—our worship services, bible studies, prayer meetings, and personal devotions—must be a preparation, not a substitution for dealing with the ultimate kinds of choices facing all of us in the future. First, what am I giving my life to; second, do my goals, ambitions, and values reflect the beliefs I embrace; and third, how much of what I consider important does God consider valuable in light of eternity? These are perhaps the three most crucial questions confronting Christians who find themselves at the crossroads of life decisions. The philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If you ignore or allow these questions to go unanswered or unexplored, it may leave you lost in a life that is not worth living.
In Psalm 90:12 Moses writes, “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” We are not creatures of insignificant accidents waiting to happen. God deliberately designed us to live purposeful and meaningful lives. What we do with our lives matters to God. The Lord is more than willing to help us discern what shape our lives should take. He is willing to teach us how we can make our lives count in this world. He is willing to give us a heart of wisdom. He is the God who says in Isaiah 48:17, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.” If we yield our lives over in trust and obedience to God’s leading, He will teach us how to say with discerning confidence, “This is what I want to give my life to” and “This is an obvious waste of my time.”
The Death of a Salesman is a 1949 classic play by Arthur Miller. Willy Loman is a traveling salesman whose ultimate aim in life was to make it big, to have everybody like him, and to see his sons follow in his footsteps. As the story progresses, one by one his dreams are shattered. First, he loses his lifelong job. Then he realizes, to his horror, that his sons not only mirror all his insecurities, but eventually lose all respect for him. Finally, in a moment of despair, Willy commits suicide. The story ends with all the sons of Willy gathered around his graveside. The eldest son makes this closing remark concerning his father, “He had the wrong dreams…he never knew who he was.” It was a deeply haunting eulogy. Perhaps Willy never really took the time to define his dreams. He probably never saw the need to take inventory of what really mattered most in his life. He never woke up to the reality that the dreams he was striving for was unworthy of such an uncommon, all-consuming drive in his life. Empty dreams lead to bankrupt lives. We read in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.” There are dreams that seem to hold out great promises for our future. Dreamer, beware! Like Willy’s dreams, your dreams may not be worth dying for.
How do we avoid the kind of desperation that Willy’s broken dreams brought to bear? How can we guard against the drastic measures that the ‘Willy’s of this world’ take? How do we get off life’s never-ending treadmill? With an uncompromising but misplaced focus, we furiously log all this earthly mileage in life only to discover that we are going nowhere fast. We all run the risk of blindly subjecting our lives in pursuit of the monotonous daily grind of going to school in order to graduate in order to get a good paying job in order to get married in order to have children who will go to school to graduate to get a good paying job to get married to have children and so on and so forth. Year after year, we witness more of the same. Imagine if you will, entire generations running on never-ending treadmills and desperate to live a dream that turns out to be a nightmare. Yet in order to get ahead, to make the grade or reach for the top, people persist. They relentlessly, with blinders, pursue an elusive mirage in the ‘wasteland of the temporal.’
Some of us will someday find ourselves seated in a worn out wooden rocking chair. We may not live over a century like some people. Others may not even reach the halfway mark. And many people’s lives do get cut down in their prime. Yet those of us who will eventually become old and gray will have little time to think about our past life choices. As we slowly rock our chairs back and forth, we may feel the weight of our unfulfilled lives or weep over our broken dreams. We may even look back with great regret asking ourselves the hard and painful questions, “How could I have wandered around aimlessly for so long a time? Why didn’t I stop long enough to discern my direction in life? Why did I choose to look the other way and give myself over to useless habits or empty dreams?” The Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, “We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” People who have been running in senseless circles all their lives will soon discover in their old age that their cheap choices come at a high cost.
My challenge to you today is let’s not wait until we’re old and gray or hunched and haggard only to discover that our lives have been meaninglessly spent. The author in the book of Ecclesiastes 1:14 cautions us, “I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.” He is saying in our own vernacular, “I’ve been there and done that. It’s like aiming at nothing and hitting it.” Search your hearts today and ask yourselves these following questions, “What are my personal hopes and dreams? What do I desire to fulfill or achieve over this brief period of time on planet Earth? Am I headed toward the direction of my dreams?”
Why don’t we help each other examine our lives and determine what our purpose or final testimony may be. What is a final testimony? It is a public profession that we have envisioned for our lives. Enabled by God’s grace, it is the testimony that we hope to accomplish in our lifetime. It is the testimony we will leave behind for people to remember us by. It is the testimony that points to the last statement of our lives etched in the corridors of people’s memories. At the conclusion of this hub, you can read some of the epitaphs or final testimonies of those who have gone ahead us. You can also read the final testimonies written by those who are still living and intend to leave behind.
Beginning about the 2nd century B.C., all male Jews were expected to wear at morning prayers, except on Sabbaths and festivals, two phylacteries. One phylactery called a frontlet was to be placed on the forehead, while the other was strapped on the left arm. These phylacteries were small leather cases containing four passages of scripture from the Old Testament. This practice was based on their literal interpretation of book of Exodus 13:9 which said, “It shall serve you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the LORD may be on your lips…”
I’d like to adapt this Old Testament practice as a tool and introduce you to a modern day phylactery. On a blank sheet of paper, write out the heading: Tomb It May Concern. This will be your own epitaph. Starting from the top, fill in your name, date of birth, and then proceed to write out what you feel is God’s intended life purpose for you. Think about this in connection with what you believe will be your final testimony in life. You may want to be scriptural, poetical or downright comical! A passage or verse in the bible may have not only caused a life-changing experience, but continues to inspire you to live up to it. You may also want to use a well-known quote that ties in well with how you will want to live out the rest of your life. Feel free to get creative and share the results of this exercise with others. Possibly write it out and share it in the "comment" section.
It’s also very important that you make yourself accountable to a Christian brother or sister, your husband or wife, or someone who genuinely cares enough to know your final testimony and can encourage you along your journey to accomplish it. I urge you to insert your final testimony in your wallet, drop it in your purse, tape it to your dashboard, store it in a safe, include it with your last will and testament or post it on your bathroom mirror to keep you mindful of what you are giving your life to on a daily basis. I’m told that Jonathan Edwards would pray saying, “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” Imagine how differently we would spend every waking moment of our lives if we could see everything in light of eternity.
Copyright 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
Hilaire Belloc 1870—1953
"When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."
Mel Blanc 1908—1989
"That’s all folks!"
"Hey! He was just here a minute ago!"
George Washington Carver
"He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"Stop, Christian Passer-by! – Stop, chilf od God, and read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod a poet lies, or that which once seem’d he. O, lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.; that he who many a year with toil of breath found death in life, may here find death! Mercy for praise – to be forgiven for fame, he’d ask’d, and hoped, through Christ. Do thou the same!"
"There goes the neighborhood."
"He lies here in the dust but beholds Him."
"Hey Ram" (Translation: "O, lord")
"End of construction: Thank you for Your Patience."
Merv Griffin 1925 – 2007
"I will not be right back after this message."
"I knew this would happen."
"Here lies George Johnson. Hanged by mistake, 1882. He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he's gone."
Adoniram Judson 1788—1850
"Malden his birthplace, the ocean his sepulcher, converted Burmans and the Burman Bible his Monument, his record is on high."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last."
"Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless..."
Dwight Lyman Moody 1837—1899
"He that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
"Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a 44, no less no more."
"This was the grave of Mike O’Day, who died maintaining his right of way. His right was clear, his will was strong, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong."
"If you live right death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."
Dame Dorothy Selby
"In heart a Lydia, and in tongue Hanna, in zeal a Ruth, in wedlock a Susanna, prudently simple, providentially wary, to the world a Martha, and to heaven a Mary."
Francis Albert Sinatra 1915—1998
"The best is yet to come."
"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
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