I am continuing to read John Piper‘s book, Don’t Waste Your Life. Today I read a chapter entitled “Living to Prove He is More Precious than Life.”

It just so happens that I’m also embarking on a portion of my “being coached” adventure that necessitates me setting a stopwatch for every 15 minutes and then categorizing what I have done for the previous quarter hour… every 15 minutes, All. Day. Long. And I have to do this for 5 days in a row.

Want a way to self-examine yourself to see if you’re wasting your life? Write down what you do every 15 minutes from midnight to midnight for just one day in a row… let alone five! The feeling I’m getting right now is not one of wasting my life, but it’s also not one of using it to it’s fullest. As I look at my morning so far, it’s quite scattered, from taking care of myself and family to eating to returning emails and phone calls… it wasn’t until around 10:00 that I settled into doing one thing for more than 15 minutes. And it wasn’t until noon that I took a break to actually breathe and say, “where am I?”

Don’t Waste Your Life. How many of us are happy with the true quality our lives? Not the amount of income reported on our taxes, not the strength of our bodies, and not even the amount of time spent with our family watching “quality TV.” How can we “know” that what we’re doing is worth living for, or better yet, worth DYING for? This chapter I just read was all about sacrifice… and not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice, but sacrifice for the sake of something truly WORTH something. I liked this line toward the end of the chapter:

The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ looks  like the Treasure he is.

How true is that! And when compared to a life of being nice, obeying rules, going to church, and maintaining a good reputation, how much more EXCITING is that? Instead of going through life trying to squeeze everything in or make sure this gets done and that doesn’t, one can truly LIVE for something.

Mark Sturgell, my coach, encouraged me last week to boil my priorities down to 5 things. Here’s my initial list:

  1. Growing closer to God.
  2. Understanding myself.
  3. Growing close and caring for my family.
  4. Helping and encouraging others.
  5. Being free to live my life.

I feel a need to further refine those, and will walk down that road in the near future. The top several things on that list are kind of “defaults” for me, unfortunately, and I want to totally change that so that the things that are most important to me become things that actually get my attention. I don’t want to wind up at the end of life, or at the end of my 30’s, or at the end of this week, look back, and wonder…what was THAT all about? Did I accomplish ANYTHING worth while? The more and more I learn about what is important to me, the more and more I’m wanting to do what is necessary to become that person, to be that person, and to accomplish the things God has both asked me to do, and that I know he will empower me to do.

Piper discussed the way many of us live our lives as if the world is at peace, and not as if we are engaged in all-out-war against the devil, the world, and even our old selves. He called this an “avoidance ethic,” and it hit home with me as to the way I used to approach things like conflict, confrontation, vision, dreams, and just about anything important in life. (and still do both in weak, rushed, and lazy times of my life). I like this comparison he made:

Peole who are content with the avoidance ethic generally ask the wrong question about behavior. They ask, What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with this movie? Or this music? Or this game? Or these companions? Or this way of relaxing? Or this investment? Or this restaurant? Or shopping at this store? What’s wrong with going to the cabin every weekend? Or having a cabin? This kind of question will rarely yield a lifestyle that commands Christ as all-satisfying and makes people glad in God. It simply results in a list of don’ts. It feeds the avoidance ethic.

The better questions to ask about possible behaviors is: How will this help me treasure Christ more? How will it help me show that I do treasure Christ? How will it help me know Christ or display Christ? The Bible says, ‘Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). So the question is mainly positive, not negative. How can I portray God as glorious in this ation? How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?

What a challenge that is to me. Instead of avoiding conflict and pain, I can be pursuing glory and praise. Not my own, but of a cause far greater than my own. Throughout the chapter, Piper made references to the men who fought at Iwo Jima, their sacrifice, their losses, and their ultimate victory in the very face of defeat.

Oh, God, I don’t want to waste my life! I want to live a life full of energy and dedicated toward serving and displaying you, of bettering the world through the influence you’ve granted me, and by loving those you’ve brought into my life in a way that challenges them to respond to your call as well.