Staying in Puerto Rico for the summer of 2014 was a grand time. God opened doors, new relationships were formed, fruitful labor was tasked, and I experienced what I consider the most worthwhile days of my life. Those months continue to serve as a model for how I want to live every day of my life.
The past week has been a whirlwind, a near-dream, an adventure, and the truest blessing. It has made for a very serious treat, having the opportunity to spend my Spring Break: in my home-away-from-home at Campamento del Caribe, enjoying the precious gem of an island known as Puerto Rico, and making efforts to see every familiar face while also meeting new friends. I have picked up on the fact that we make very good use of our time when we acknowledge the brevity of our stay.
One of the simplest highlights of the Spring Break trip was found as I was recruited for airport pickup of an incoming Mission Adventure Team from Michigan. The drive from the south side of the island (camp) to the north side (airport) is one of the most beautiful I have come across (pun intended). It was nice to be back in the saddle again.
The Dodge beauty will forever have a special place in this beast’s heart.
Afortunadamente (one of my favorite words), the treasure that is the tape-to-AUX chord survived since summer, which was a Godsend. I generally listened to a Zach Brown playlist while driving through the windy mountain roads, but this time I just threw my classic Ipod on shuffle. Windows down, some alone time, good tunes, headed to meet new people…that’s a hard lineup to beat.
All the songs on my Ipod are far from new. One hit me hard as I was chugging northbound, about 35 minutes into the drive. Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of Rascal Flatts by any means, but this song is worth listening to for the lyrics…
And when they carve my stone, they’ll write these words
“Here lies a man who lived life for all that its worth”
This won’t be true of any headstone of mine; I want to be cremated, so no headstone for me…but as I live daily, I want it to be a visible, inarguable truth, that I live purposefully. I want people to understand that I’ve changed “from the inside out” and that my testimony is the “that was then and this is now.” Most people that have talked with me know that one of the greatest desires of my heart is to live worthwhile, to live effectively. So I enjoyed the song.
The desire to live worthwhile and effectively is not something I have always had. When I was much younger, I had no idea what it meant to live worthwhile and effectively; I just knew I liked playing baseball and Mario (on the original Nintendo), and that making good grades made my parents smile. When I was a little older, worthwhile and effective living was introduced to me, but they were things that were only applicable to the far-off, very distant future. I thought worthwhile living was likely attached to having children and money and a big-person, real job, and a house. I knew that at the VERY LEAST, worthwhile living required a driver’s license and keys to a car.
From 8th grade through my high school years, and into my first year or so of college, I had the knowledge of what it meant to live worthwhile, but I more or less took this on as a part time task. I wanted to love God and love others, but I also wanted to love me, myself, and I. Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you know exactly what I’m talking about. I knew Jesus and loved Him greatly, but I also loved myself a lot; I was not acknowledging that my life was my worship (in its entirety), my opportunity to respond to the love of the King, shown through Jesus on the cross. He had my attention through this time, but He didn’t have my all. Or at times He would seemingly have my all, but this would be laced with the times when I had my all (meaning He never actually had my all).
Through these years, though many people thought otherwise, my relationship with God was rocky. The relational instability that was experienced was a result of my choices. God was, and always is, steadfast. I was not. Through these years I chose to learn some lessons the hard way. I was living for me. I chose to seek pseudo-joys offered in worldly things. Satan uses those shiny lures to pull our eyes away from the fullness of the joy that is offered in Jesus; we can be like dumb fish at times. We get hooked when we take our eyes off the cross, when we neglect the love we have been lavished with.
Anyways, through some trials, some changes, some hardship, some lessons learned, some open doors, and some great friends, I came to a point where I realized “my life” was not mine. My desire was no longer for the things of this world. I wanted my life, in its entirety, to be lived for the one thing that is going to last. This is the only true way I can live worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, if someone hands me the keys to a brand new red Corvette, I will not be turning it down. But my short and long term goals are no longer focused on an individual, owning a big house, nicer clothing, or obtaining more leisure things, or having a thicker wallet. All of these things fade. I’m not going to spend my talents, resources, energy, and passion on things that don’t last. That’s wasteful. My life is His, whatever He would have of me. Whatever I can do with my life to serve Him, that’s what I will do. I don’t want to waste my minutes, never mind my life.
This video meant a lot to me at the time when I was growing towards this realization. If you’ve never watched it, it’s worth your 7 minutes; if you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back.
It was made before cell phones were popular. That’s one way to know it is the good stuff. (Also, if you have questions about anything, check out http://www.DesiringGod.org – it has been an invaluable resource.)
This song also means a lot to me. It sings well of my desire. And the ending mentions the choice we each have. It’s up to you. I can’t drag anyone into God’s family, but I will do everything in my power to urge you towards Him.
So, back to what I was originally talking about: Puerto Rico, living worthwhile, acknowledging that we only have a short stay.
I met a man named Bruce, and his wife (her name is a typical woman’s name, also starting with a B, but I can’t remember it. I’m sure Barbara/Brenda/she would forgive me.) on the first day I was in camp. I got to hear of how they’ve been retired and working in camps for over 10 years. Most of my conversation was had with Bruce, but he was speaking for the pair. They actively serve camps in whatever capacity they are able. I watched this man doing hard physical work in the Puerto Rican sun, and he has to be in his early seventies (ish, don’t hate me if I’m wrong Bruce). They have both worked with youth and camp ministry for around 20 years. When they felt they were getting too old to be active with the youth in their church, they began working with the younger children, because they can sit down while still being active with small children. What a picture of worthwhile living. And Bruce, who was doing the hard work with the camp Head of Maintenance (LOVE YOU KEN), has had 2 knee replacements as well as back injuries. I asked Him why he keeps on keeping on. His answer: “I love serving the Lord.” I loved talking with these people. We talked about the John Piper video I shared up above, and how the fruit of their work is Kingdom impact. I was thankful God let me meet this couple that is so committed to living for Him. When they were getting ready to leave, I asked what was next for them and they both said they would go home to rest. They also added that after about 3 days of sitting in rocking chairs and paying bills, they would be bored and would head to their next camp in Michigan to help out in whatever ways possible. These two really touched my heart.
Jesus isn’t looking for part of you; He is seeking your all. He wants you to reciprocate the love that He shows, by the way that you live your life. It’s what we see the disciples did after Jesus left the earth. It’s what missionaries of our faith are doing all around the world today. It’s what we are called to in our daily lives, and it’s our joy to do so. That the King would entrust us with His message of reconciliation is an honor. It is our privilege to represent Him, and our desire must be to represent Him well.
Don’t live for meaningless things. The Bible talks about the shortness of our time here on this earth. Check out these references.
As many times as the brevity of our lives is mentioned, I believe it is something we should consider daily. Take time to look at what you’ve been given. Take time to consider how ‘your all’ can best be put to use, towards things that endure; don’t put it off.
Once we recognize the shortness of our stay, we are better able to make use of the time we have. When I looked at how short my time in Puerto Rico was set to be, I made use of every second. And that’s exactly what I want to do with my life: acknowledge the shortness of the stay, and make use of every second. I talked with a preacher in Puerto Rico who had just finished a funeral service. We talked about how life ends, sometimes expectedly, sometimes abruptly. No matter what you are doing, have done, or are set to do, life will end one day. Sometimes we would like to ignore it, but this is fact: this life we are living gets interrupted by this thing called death. This is one reason we must make use of our ‘today’ and not put off worthwhile living for an unknown time down the road.
I was reminded of this truth the night I was coming home from my Puerto Rico trip. A lady in my church who was dear to me, left this temporary home (suddenly) to spend eternity with our Savior. In the time that I knew her, I never left her presence without her having put a smile on my face. She was amazing. She encouraged me in the work I do with the youth, whether we were in church or running into each other at a restaurant. I am very thankful for the ministry that her life was.
I beg you to make use of your time, every moment of it. Spend your life introducing others to the love of God, and encouraging others to seek Him. Let His Light shine brightly through you. They’ll see your life change, and the glory will be His.
I challenge you to make use of this short stay. It’s like a crashing wave. It’s like a mist. It’s like a shadow. It’s like a blade of grass. Don’t get to the end of your life and look back dismayed by what you have lived for. Live worthwhile, starting right now.
[Good starting place: 2 Peter 1, 1 Timothy 4:12, Psalm 119:9-16]
I love you. Even if I don’t know you, I love you. I would love to talk with you more!