This is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies as a teenager:
Henry David Thoreau said it this way -
"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately,
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die
Discover that I had not lived."
Thoreau feared it in the 1800's. Isn't it still our deepest fear? That we will come to the end of this life only to discover that we've never really lived? Isn't that why we make bucket lists and we sign our kids up for every activity under the sun and we travel long distances to experience new and exciting things? Isn't it often why mothers leave their families and daddies cheat on mothers? Because they're afraid they're missing something life might be able to offer them? Doesn't our fear of not really living drive us to fill our houses to overflowing with stuff that we believe will assist us in our quest to "suck out all the marrow of life"? Isn't that why we diligently plan for our retirement? So that in the final years of our life we'll have the resources to really "live". It's the driving thought behind the mid-life crisis. It's probably the most commonly used tactic in advertising - convincing people that they really haven't lived until they've eaten this or driven that or seen this place or had that experience.
We are SO afraid that we're going to miss out on something that life may have to offer us. The truth that we only have one life to live has us living in a constant state of panic and we don't even realize it.
Doesn't it seem a little bit crazy that we're killing ourselves so that we can suck the most out of life?
And isn't this quest the source of most of our anger and frustration? For me the answer to that question is a resounding YES. I get frustrated when little people interrupt my quest to "really live" by complaining about what I served them for breakfast or by leaving their wet towels in their swim bag to sour or by getting out of bed 5 times before they finally go to sleep. Or when babies poop on sheets and throw food in the floor and scream while I'm attempting to have a conversation. Or when people mistreat my husband. Or when a friend asks me to help feed a homeless man one day a week (and I reluctantly say yes because I know it's gonna be really inconvenient at times). Or when the air conditioner goes out in my car and the tax return doesn't show up when the IRS said it would. Or when it's dinner time and everyone expects me to deliver. I even recently found myself frustrated with God that he asked me to live in the city instead of on a farm. For some reason I think living on a farm would be really living. I allowed myself to be convinced that I was missing out on something life had to offer because I don't have 20 acres, a huge garden to hoe and livestock! All of these things really start to mess with my ability to"sieze the day". Most of the time, rather than feeling like I'm sucking the marrow out of life, I'm left feeling like life is just sucking. The result is an unholy anger. A nasty, harmful cycle of frustration and anger.
I never stop being amazed by how we can completely miss it. By how easily we are deceived. By how easily I am deceived.
It is true. We do only have one life on earth. And I do, as Thoreau said, want to live this one life deliberately. But as a follower of Christ, I don't think I'm called to suck out all the marrow of life. As hard as it is to live it, I'm asked to open myself up to having the life sucked out of me. I'm called to deliberately live in such a way that I can gladly come to the end of my life only to discover that I had not really lived - but rather that I had been dead for years and that Christ had been living through me.
In the Kingdom of God the interruptions should be cause for gladness. The pooped on sheets and the sour towels and the hundred other daily messes should be seen as opportunities to die. The reluctantly embraced inconveniences of following Christ should be celebrated as evidence of death. Panic should be the response invoked when we realize that we're not dying.
Even though it goes against all that my flesh cries out for, the Spirit reminded me today that I only have one life to die... and I don't want to waste it in a constant state of "living".