Heart Of A Child
A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend about the phrase "Live like you are dying."
"What do you think?" He asked, "Is it good advice?"
I rolled my eyes. "Who could tell any more? It's so cliched that even if you told someone to live that way they wouldn't even really hear you." At the time I had no idea that the YOLO epidemic was on it's way in full force.
"I think it would make me live a little recklessly," He said with a mischievous glint in his eye, "but I don't think it would make me live any more fully."
The point he was making is that on your way to death, you behave a little selfishly. Why shouldn't you? Get in a few thrills before the end, you're on a timeline here. Say your goodbyes, make your peace and then eat whatever you want, jump off of things, run with the bulls and never look back. If your life is on a timeline with death at the end, responsibilities are not important, getting the most out of the only life you know, is.
"YOLO" came along and tried to put a positive spin on the whole idea, but the intent is still clear. You are going to die, so you might as well live while you can. While most people don't take this advice to the extreme, you can still see the evidence of a YOLO mindset all over our culture. We speed past quiet moments and that hint of true joy at 85 Miles per hour (where it's legal) in a relentless pursuit of the grand finale.
When I asked my friend what would inspire him to live more fully he launched into an excited and lengthy speech that I will spare you. The essence of what he said though is that we should live like children. Small ones. The kind that stare unashamedly and ask "why" even after you have given an exhaustive explanation of why, the kind that point at things that interest them and ask yet again "why?" The kind that don't mind having the mess of life all over their hands or running down their chins, who climb into chairs with big smiles and sticky fingers and a strong desire to sit close to daddy and whisper "I love you" and of course "why?"
The more I thought about this, the more hopeful it felt. Jesus wants us to have hearts like children. Jesus teaches us how to live, Jesus teaches us how to learn and grow and ask of our heavenly father "why?" He gave us the freedom to climb into his lap with our sticky lives and whisper close to his ear "I love you." Children aren't thinking about how to get the most out of life, they are simply fascinated with the art of living.
Christ has already ransomed us from death, to eternal life.. So, while life is not to be taken for granted, death is also not to be feared. Hebrews 9:26-28 "...But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."
This is music to me. For those of us born to the kingdom of God, death is not the end of the line, it is not the grand finale, it is only the gateway to our second and true life. To be certain, death has no joy. I've never done it, so I don't know for sure, but it can't be comfortable to have this vessel that God designed ripped apart from the core, my soul. But the good news? I only have to do it once. The best news? When Jesus died, he conquered it, defeated it, broke its rules and made a clear pathway to everlasting life.
The life we have now, is full of joy, sorrow, delights, fears, danger, striving, love, and everything else under the sun. Sometimes it's a party and frequently it's a struggle. There is so much joy in remembering that the common rules of death do not apply to us. It brings a sense of freedom and a truly child like bounce to my step. I don't want to put the focus on death. Death is a bump in the road, a glitch in the original design, and we have been promised everlasting life. Death is inevitable, but it is certainly not a goal.
What lies ahead for us is joy without sorrow, beauty without scars, love without fear. What lies ahead for us is the world as our good Father intended it.
It's January. While you are making lists and setting goals and having such a positive intent toward 2016, maybe add something that forces you to think and feel like a child. I wanted to package up a neat little phrase that you and your friends could say to each other at ironic moments and have a good laugh. What do you think; "Live like children who only have to die once and then the real party starts." It's kind of a mouthful and I don't even know how you would say LLCWOHTDOATTRPS.
Or! With the gospel in mind and an everlasting hope to look forward to, you could say "You Only Die Once." YODO everyone, Happy New Year.
-This weeks post is by Ashley Bowie, a member at Redeemer. She pours an excellent cup of coffee, and loves words the way some people love their pets, or children.