So, you might be thinking…alive and living, aren’t they the same thing? I mean, if we are alive then we are living, right? Technically speaking, yes, but I have come to understand that they are very different. Let me explain…
Alive versus living. The former is a state of being; the latter is a state of doing. Existing instead of experiencing.
I’m sure you agree that we are alive, 🙂 but what are we doing? What are we experiencing?
Consider this paradox: The more we do, the more we accumulate; the more we attain, the less we are able to live. Our ability to fully engage life’s experiences, embrace subtle mysteries, and be enriched by special moments, is significantly reduced by the amount of things we do, the speed at which we do them, and the reasons why they seem important to us. We are alive but not living.
Listen to King Solomon’s self-reflection (Ecclestiastes 2:4-10):
I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
Now that is living! Big houses, big parties, and big living. He didn’t just run the kingdom; he owned it. Plants, animals, even servants were at his abundance. He even found pleasure in hard work.
But, he was not satisfied. When Solomon stepped back and surveyed his splendor, he confessed that all his hard work was for nothing. Ecclestiastes 2:11:
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Even his hard work proved a waste. Everything was actually nothing. The more he attained, the less he lived.
Imagine a ruler with power, status, and wisdom. A thriving kingdom with every imaginable luxury. All the things our society holds out as the keys to happiness. And Solomon’s assessment of it all? Ecclestiastes 2:17:
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
It was pointless. He hated life at the top. He hated his life because he didn’t really have one. He was alive, but had not truly lived. How interesting that his life comes full circle, Solomon offers his final conclusion (Ecclestiastes 12:13):
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
In the end, relating to God is all that mattered – and nothing more.
Here’s the big question
What are you chasing? Where is all your “busy rushing” leading? Why do you do all the things you do? What is in your innermost heart that is driving you? What is it you must have more of?
Can you see it? Is it something you seek? Is it something you feel? Search your soul. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus said that your treasure is where your heart is. What is inside the treasure chest you spend each day trying to open?
What’s the correct answer? God.
If “God” is not your answer, have you considered whether it should be? Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, his reply was (Mark 12:30):
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Making God your heart’s greatest pursuit – the goal you chase – the reason why you do the things you do – would help you fulfill that commandment. God is the one you should want more of. As Solomon showed us, God is all that matters when all is said and done (1).
Why am I telling you this?
I feel like God wants me (and you) to take some time, step back from my life, and ask myself, What am I doing? Am I really living? or am I just alive? How much of what I am doing will last for eternity?
Since I was laid off of my job in December, I have been searching, learning, and changing the way I think and live, so that I can really live. I am still very far from living an abundant life (John 10:10) or living in the promised land (which is on earth by the way). I understand that learning to really live is a journey, and that it’s never fun to travel on your own :).
I have often thought about sharing my journey with you through this blog, but I felt that it might just be a waste of time. Who could really benefit from my thoughts, anyway? I’m not a nutritionist, an exercise coach, a preacher, or a mother (yet). What could I offer that is significant to you?
But I was way off…not even asking the correct questions. The truth is that I am passionate about God and about living how he intended me to live. It isn’t about me and what I want to write about on this blog; it’s about God and what He wants me to write, what He wants you to read and consider your own life.
I am NOT saying that what I write is what God wants…it’s a journey, remember. But I would love for you to travel with me, helping each other to understand how to really live.
P.S. Don’t forget to watch the Switchfoot Afterlife video!
(1) Time Warped: First Century Time Stewardship for 21st Century Living