“I’m growing older but not up
My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck
Let those winds of time blow over my head
I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead” –Jimmy Buffett
I first heard those words in college in 1992. “I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.” It sounds like someone living life to the fullest, embracing each opportunity, finding adventure in the ordinary.
In recent days, those words have come back to mind in a different form. I’ve been contemplating the idea of pacing life for maximum joy and impact. I know that statement sounds a bit hedonistic, but I’m looking at this idea through the lens of Christ’s words: “I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He not only came to give us life, He came to give us abundant life! Here’s the story behind the statement.
Our family recently took a road trip through Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. The scenery was beautiful. We took a lot of pictures, made a lot of memories, hiked a 3 hour trail in 1.5 hours (that’s a whole different story), ate entirely too much junk food in the car, and enjoyed every moment of being together. As I shared pictures of the 2200 mile road trip, I kept hearing people say, “When I retire, I’m going to see America.” “When things slow down at work, we’re going to travel more.” “When the kids are a little older, when we finish a few projects around the house, when __________ (you fill in the blank)…”
The equation was the same. When “something happens” then “we will do what we want to do.” There’s no question that learning to delay gratification is a part of maturity. There’s also wisdom in waiting based on current circumstances. But this thought keeps rattling around in my head. What if the timing is never right? My question and thoughts went far beyond a simple road trip. I was thinking about other major decisions in life.
Is there ever a good time to start a family? Is there ever a good market for starting a business? When does life slow down enough to “find” time to spend with God? Will there ever be time to serve at church, or go on a mission trip, or volunteer at your child’s school? What if you spend your entire life deferring until a better time?
James 4:13-14 says, “Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.”
According to Scripture, we’re not promised tomorrow. We have today, our days are numbered, and God didn’t stamp an expiration date on our foot at birth. Since we are not guaranteed that block of time called “retirement,” or the promise of future health, or the ability to live all these future dreams—what will you do with the life you have today?
How do you pace life for maximum joy and impact? When I speak of pacing life, I’m talking about spreading the joy, the blessings, the goals, the adventures, the risks, the rewards—all of life over the course of your life. We already live this way in other areas.
If you want to loose weight, you don’t starve yourself for 3 weeks to lose 20 lbs. Instead, you pace your weight loss over a couple of months by making healthy choices. If you want to save for retirement, you don’t wait until you’re 60 before saving money. Instead, you pace your financial goals over the course of 40+ years (saving a little each month). If you want to know God intimately, it doesn’t come by focusing on Him for a 3 day weekend once a year. Instead, you spend time with Him daily and get to know Him gradually.
As we grow older, we see that most goals are not achieved by sprinting to the finish line, cramming at the last minute, or waiting until the 11th hour. That might have worked in college, but it doesn’t work well on the important life decisions. We have to learn to pace our lives.
As I’ve been processing the concept of pacing life, there are 4 words that come to mind: understanding, values, goals, and risk. We need to understand the concept of pacing life. It’s important to know our values and live accordingly. We need to write out goals that we would like to achieve. We must approach risk with wisdom.
Over the next few posts, I’m going to address each part. John Piper once stated, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” My goal is to help people live the abundant life where they find maximum satisfaction in Christ.