Friday, December 30, 2005

Resolutions: my recent discovery becomes everyone's universal moral imperative

For four-plus decades I did not make much of New Year's Eve. After all, it's just a tick on a manmade calendar. To massage the cliche, every night is a new year's eve, every morning is the first day of the rest of... well, you know.

But as I neared the half-century mark, the drive to make something of my life (still unsatisfied) italicized the days on the calendar. I knew my fiftieth birthday had the potential for being traumatic, as I shared with my family. Each day heightens the likelihood that more calendar-marks lie behind me than before me, in this earthly pilgrimage. Wanting to be pro-active and ease the trauma as much as possible, with my wife's very sweet encouragement, I took an overnighter last year to try to come up with some kind of an agenda for 2005.

It's a way of reaching for the wisdom behind Moses' prayer in Psalm 90:12 -- "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."

It's easy enough to look at what others are doing with their marriages, their "free" time, their careers, their relationships, and to wonder, "This is your plan? This is the only time the Lord gives you in which to serve Him on the battlefield -- and this is what you're doing with it? You're going to go before God and say, 'Here's how I spent the life You gave me'?"

And I'm not even talking primarily about squandering one's life with "trivia" such as keeping one's marriage vows, being a devoted and godly parent, being a faithful employee, when you could be ______ (insert lofty goal here). I'm talking about not glorifying God by thinking and living Biblically: not keeping vows, not investing in children, not serving in church, for starters; then, on top of that, not having any transcendent, larger, organizing life-goal that is centered not around self-exaltation but the glorification of Christ.

If that isn't the central goal that enflames our hearts -- not grabbing all the gusto we can as happy worldlings, but pressing on for the goal of bringing glory to Jesus by what He has made and given us (1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 3:7-14) -- then we have a serious heart-problem. That sounds more like those whose "god is their stomach [i.e., I take it, fleshly drives]," whose "glory is in their shame," who "are focused on earthly things" (Philippans 3:19 HCSB). If any of that singes us even a little, we should take ourselves to the Lord immediately, get our hearts put in the right place by His grace and word.

But as I say, it can be easy enough to do that for others, to see how shamefully they may be wasting their lives enthralled to the flesh. Perspective is always easiest in the second- and third-person. It's the first-person that's hard.

So that's why I've taken to doing this. Prayerfully I seek to step out of myself, get some perspective, do some retrospection and proactive thinking. For some reason, it's hard for me to do that within a mile or two of my home, so I have to get some little bit of distance.

Perhaps I got the general idea from John Piper, who in Future Grace relates that he utilizes midnight of 12/31 as a dress-rehearsal for his death. He reviews his life as it would be assessed by God, were he to die. The nice thing about that, he observes, is that he usually gets a do-over starting the next day. One day, he won't; nor will I.

So while the title of this post is of course a joke, I would encourage you to do something other than just go to bed, or watch Twilight Zone reruns. Take a moment, an hour, more, and take a Biblical assessment of what you're doing with the stewardship of your marriage (or singleness), your parenting (and/or friendships), your churchmanship -- your life.

Email what you do to me, or blog it and tell me, and with your permission perhaps I'll add your ideas as updates.

No comments: