Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

"I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader's Digest: A couple 'took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells...' Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: 'Look, Lord. See my shells.' That is a tragedy."

I just finished the book 
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, which all the FH interns are reading before our briefing in 2 weeks. What an awesome book! 

The first chapters are all about our life's purpose (suiting, considering I just finished a philosophy class entitled "The Meaning of Life," where I was quite challenged by a Christian's fundamental purpose on this earth).  Key quotes worthy of mad highlighting, underlining and exclamation-pointing in my notes:

"Because I was created by God and for His glory, I will magnify Him as I respond to His great love. My desire to is make knowing and enjoying God the passionate pursuit of my life."  

"We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the job of all people through Jesus Christ."

"Every pleasure in the world becomes a blood-brough evidence of Christ's love, and an occasion of boasting in the cross."

Piper is consisently refrencing Paul's words on "boasting in the cross" as our single goal for life as Christians. I never understood when Paul would say this. Boast in the cross? Meaning boast in the electric chair, the lynching rope, the lethal injection, as Piper says? This seems wierd. Also, this is to be our only goal for life? Boasting? Well, boasting = rejoicing. The crucifixion of Christ and the results of his death is the example of God's grace and love for us as sinners. God does not owe us anything but death and condemnation, yet thanks to the cross, we are saved from these things (if we chose to accept it). Thus, "Every breath we take, eery time our heart beats, every day the sun rises, every moment we see with our eyes or speak with our mouths or walk with our legs is, for how, a free and undeserved gift to sinners who deserve only judgement." And for this we must be ever-grateful. 

But what does this look like in everything in life? Well, I am asking God to show me this. The book gives some examples (why not go pick it up yourself and check it? hehe), but I am convicted to apply it to my personal life, beginning now, this summer. So I will keep you updated on what God teaches me :)

Ok. Now the last part of the book was equally as jaw-dropping for me as the first 3. Chapter 5 is all about risk for Christ, and chapter 9 is all about missions. Key quotes:

"Risk is woven into the fabric of our finite lives. We cannot avoid risk even if we want to... One of my aims is to explode the myth of safetey and to deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it's a mirage. [Security] doesn't exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns beyond your control."

"[We] have 2 choices: waste life of live with risk."

I am especially inspired by the story of Esther (see the book of Esther in the Old Testament) and her response to risk:

"If I perish, I perish."

She lived by the words of Paul long before they were recorded:

"To live is Christ and to die is gain." -Philippians 1:21

What can the world take away from us? What can separate us from the love of Christ? For if we die, we only satisfy the deep longings of our hearts: we are unified with God in a perfect state! So for those concerned with my safety in an unstable developing country, I would love nothing more than to die fulfilling my purpose in life to spread the gospel. Yes this is a bit dramatic, but even as I visited Tijuana, Mexico recently and received severe warning not to go due to the violence and swine flu, I was feeling this exact way: If I perish, I perish! We will all die anyway, and what a better way to leave this earth? "To live is Christ and to die is gain!"

"Christ's love for us does not spare us from these sufferings. Risk is real. The Christian life is a  painful life. Not joyless. But not painless either."

"Obedience is risk."

And on the subject of missions:

"You dare not chose between the motives to love people and glorify Christ. They are not separate motives. Acting on one includes acting on the other. Thus if you love people, you will lay down your life to make them eternally glad in God."

The condition of our world, which is encouraging and convicting, and contrary to our often ethnocentric beliefs! 

"Already today the largest Chrisitan communities on the planet are to be found in Africa and Latin America. If we want to visualize a 'typical' contemporary Christian, we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a Brazilian favela (ghetto). As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti has observed, 'the centers of the church's universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but in Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa, and Manila. Whatever Europeans or North Americans may believe, Christianity is doing very well indeed in the global South-- not just surviving but expanding."
"About 20% of the world's population are unevangelized; 47% are non-Christians living where they are likely to be evangelized; and 33% are professing Christians."

Finally, this section made me think of all of my support team:

"It is crucial that millions of Christians fulfill their life calling in secular jobs, just as it is crucial that during wartime the entire fabric of life and culture not unravel. But during wartime, even the millions of civilians love to get news from the frontlines. They love to hear the triumphs of the troops. They dream about the day the war will be no more. So it is with Christians. All of us should dream about this. We love to hear how the advance of King Jesus is fairing. We love to hear the gospel triumphs as Christ plants His church among people held for centuries by alien powers of darkness."

Thus as the metaphor goes, you are the civilian supporters and I the soldier off in war. Thank you for supporting me.
I will keep you updated on news from the frontlines.


  1. Katie,
    thanks so much for this. It's precisely what God's been showing me this past year. About the false sense of security and the futility of micro-managing and over-planning our lives. I keep reading about the freedom we have in Christ, and I think that freedom coresponds to the passion we experience in Him and the freedom to live unconventional, vagabond-like lives.

    Its all very exciting to me, and I can't wait to keep reading what else He shows you and lets you experience this summer. :)

  2. Naca,

    Thanks for sharing (:
    I really enjoyed the blog post.

  3. Wife

    Love this post and all your reflects your beautiful heart and your admirable mission.

    My only comment references this piece: "If I perish, I perish! We will all die anyway, and what a better way to leave this earth?"

    I agree with you that I would rather die doing something I love and feeling as though I am doing the right thing than doing anything else. But before you are prepared to die in Mexico or the Phillipines or young, contemplate what value you place on your life and your ability to help other people. If you place little tragic value on your death because you would have died in the service of God, you automatically, psychologically, diminish your own view of the importance of your safety abroad. Because wouldn't it be a million times more beneficial for the world and for God if you lived longerin the service of God rather than shorter, if you were able to help more people over more regions, more expanses, more time? Evaluate what a whole life committed to God could achieve as opposed to only half a life, or a quarter of a life and keep that in mind when you make decisions that may threaten your safety.

    Love you

  4. Yes, I agree with you wifey, that I should not make foolish decisions and pretend to be invincible. But I also know that God has my life planned out and when He wants me to go be with Him, I have no choice. It is not with selfishness that I think I am on this earth because God desperately needs me per sé, because He uses anyone who is willing. I am still a mere human powerless without God, and only He enables me to serve and even to breathe. Thus, I will keep common sense in mind and not be stupid with my attitude, however I know that God is in ultimately in charge.

    Love you back!

  5. I love you and am so proud of your willingness to be obedient to the Lord. You make me smile.