Maybe I’m Wasting My Life

The man was obviously very angry.
“Your son is a great kid, Lori, and he has such a fine mind! It really bothers me that you’ve filled it with these Jesus fairy tales. It’s one thing to waste your own life on them but it should be a crime for you to encourage him to waste his, too!”
This passionate tirade came after his confession that he had worked for weeks to dissuade my then teen-age son from believing what he’d been taught all his life and been raised to live out in this world.
Even though I know many people don’t believe in Jesus, I was still shocked at the effort this casual acquaintance had put into deconstructing the beliefs my son held and the rage he turned on me when it didn’t appear to be working. (Though, believe me, the seeds of doubt were sown.)
“Waste your own life, Lori. But give the kid a chance at being successful in this world.” Were his parting words.
Maybe I am wasting my life.
I’m not stupid. Somewhere out there are grades and IQ tests to testify to my intellectual capacity so I can appreciate how my life sometimes looks from the outside. When someone chooses to bet their entire present on a promised future in “the land of eternal life” and not to invest their energy in obtaining positions, wealth, success or even philanthropic service, it can look, to others, like a magnificent waste.
In the 2009 movie, The Invention of Lying, Ricky Gervais portrays our faith in an eternal home with Christ as a delusional fantasy told to comfort a dying mother blown seriously out of proportion by foolish people. In academic and media savvy circles, the notion of living to serve an invisible God and sacrificing today for some promised but distant tomorrow is as archaic, irrelevant, and museum worthy as chastity belts and suits of armor.
It may seem like this is a modern development but God knew from the beginning that there would always be those who viewed living for Him as a waste. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were required to present many kinds of offerings to the Lord. One of these is more curious than the others. It was called “the drink offering.”
The priest would offer up a glass of strong wine and then pour it out on the altar. Wine is a symbol of life and of joy. Many scholars believe the drink offering is symbolic of God’s joy in the completed work of Jesus Christ. To outside observers, it must have looked like a supreme waste. Take a glass of rich, strong, undiluted wine and simply pour it out for God. What a waste.
This offering appears early in Biblical history. After Jacob met with God in Genesis 35:14, “Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.” Jacob knew what many don’t – the pure joy of being present with the living God and he expressed that joy through his drink offering.
What is the one thing, that one dream or hope or desire, that if you could obtain it, would make your life complete even if nothing else good ever happened? For me, it is that I have known the living God.
Sure, I’d like many other things – I want my children to walk with Him. I’d like material comforts. I’d like my writing dreams to find fulfillment. I want to feel good about my marriage and my friendships. Someday, I’d like a room with a real floor and heat.
But the truth is that if every other dream falls apart, knowing Christ will be enough. I’m not that saintly (if you know me personally, that statement is superfluous); He is just that amazing.
And if I can serve Him faithfully, then even if my life looks like a waste to others (and on bad days to me), I will have known the deep, unfathomable joy of knowing Jesus.
When my story is written, I hope to say, along with the apostle Paul, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
There’s nothing glorious or romantic about looking like you’re wasting your life. In my heart of hearts, I long to be admired, respected, noteworthy even. The words of the angry man felt like dirt thrown in my face and I wanted to pull out a list of accomplishments in my defense but what I feel are accomplishments still paled in light of his accusations.
And, I certainly haven’t been above asking God for some outward show of the benefits of life with Him. “If you answered all my prayers, wouldn’t others see then how great you are?” I live in this world. I see what flies.
But God’s ways are so far from my own and, knowing Him, I trust that He knows best. I come from a long line of others whose lives were enigmas to the world from Biblical times to now. People whose lives looked like such a waste but who, will one day with me, stand face-to-face with Him with whom we’ve met in quiet hours or desperate moments or lengthy sojourns and known that He is the worthy treasure.
So, on this holy week, when we remember that Jesus laid down His life for us, will you raise with me a glass full of strong wine and pour it out on the altar for Him? Let us waste our lives together for Him who holds our LIVES in safekeeping until the day He comes again.


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    The Conversation

  1. Duke Taber says:

    The words of our mutual Savior and King come to mind. “What if you gain the world and lose your soul?” This article was excellent! Keep up the good work!

  2. Dorothy P says:

    Lori: Compared to you I am inarticulate. I cannot express my thoughts and feelings the way you do but, if I am speechless, I can still read. I will read your words, over and over, for they are inspiring and honest and like your life, are never, ever wasted.

  3. Wow! I love these words from your heart (and I sit shocked at the audacity of your “friend.”) But faith is not real until it has wrestled, and God intends even this act of sabotage to strengthen your son’s faith over the long haul.

    God bless your “waste.” I’m sure Satan thinks God is wasting a lot by investing so much in us…

  4. candidkerry says:

    Powerful post! Thank you for your honest and challenging words. It sounds like the devil launched a direct spiritual attack; Praying this situation strengthens you and your son’s faith.

    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

    May we run the race for Jesus Christ, alone!