It is a natural and human habit to, from time to time, introspectively reflect on our life. To wonder what matters. To think about what we’ve given ourselves to. We all have the occasional moment where an existential crisis creeps in. Questions like, “how did I get here?” or “is this what I want my life to be?”
In part two of this series on the Psalms God’s people sang on the road, Solomon warned them (and us) against building a life of vanity. He pleaded for us to avoid walking this pilgrimage in a way that amounts to nothing. He reminded us that it’s possible to completely waste our life. Obviously no one wants that, and yet it happens all the time. How do we know what kind of life we’re building? We’ll get there in a moment.
Ever notice that Jesus is constantly showing people that it’s not too late? He loves giving “4th quarter hope”. The parent of a dead child. The meal plan for thousands after they’ve arrived. The thief on the cross hung next to him certainly had to believe that there was less than a .000001% of things taking a turn that day. Jesus loves redeeming lives that were previously confused, unprepared, and squandered. He often recalibrates people’s lives by asking them questions about how they are making decisions, not just what they are deciding. I love the wisdom of this.
So how do we know if our life is being wasted or moving towards beauty and stewarding our resources well? To really know the answer, it’s essential for us to take inventory. Below are a few thoughts that are shaped by Biblical wisdom and watching people of all ages follow Jesus for the last 20 years.
- Look at your calendar. What work hours do you keep? Do you have time to be present with the people you care about? Want another time check (this one is only for the courageous)? Look at your Screen Time on your iPhone.
- Look at your bank statement. What would someone who only had your statement, say you love most? I imagine most of the things on that statement are good things
- Listen to your own thoughts. What do you spend most of your time thinking, worrying, and dreaming about? That will clarify what you’re probably giving your best energy and creativity to.
Take inventory of these areas and then ask yourself this essential question:
“Is this the life I want?”
With all the affection I can possibly have knowing nothing about you, hear me say this: If the answer to that question is no, we are fools to not make an immediate and significant change.
Let’s say you want a change, but it feels overwhelming. Thinking about these sort of things can be daunting and deeply discouraging. What can be done?
With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you and I have everything we need to spend our lives wisely. One of the most practical tools to move this direction is to implement is a rule of life.
WHAT IS A RULE OF LIFE?
It’s a set of filtering questions for life decisions It’s a way to make sure you are building the life you want on this pilgrimage. You probably already do a version of this subconsciously, though perhaps not with our emotional and spiritual health in mind. Examples:
I won’t do my job for less than this salary.
I won’t live in a place smaller than _.
I won’t eat ___ because of how it makes me feel or how it affects my body.
So here’s a start for a Biblical rule of life?
Does this build my relationship with God?
Does this build up my family?
Does this build up my community/church?
Does this build up my witness?
Run your current life commitments through the rule of life. If you end up with four no’s, then you just made the way forward really clear. It’s time for change. You’ve likely identified something that may be helping you build your life in vain.
If you’re a young professional or single: Is anything right now violating your RULE OF LIFE? Do not date people that do not consistently move you TOWARDS Christ. To be crystal clear, I’m not talking about “well this person helps me go to Jesus because I have to repent every time we hang out when we go too far”. If it violates a rule of life, make a change.
If you are married, what rule of life is broken right now and working against your marriage? What do you need to say no to, to make a date night happen consistently? Do you have time to have fun together? Are you married and stuck in a bad cycle or just lonely because you don’t make time for people to know what’s really going on with you?
To all the parents, are the things you’re signed up for improving your family life? Does sports year-round make family life better or more chaotic and disconnected? Are the extra curricular activities a little too extra? Do you have time to care for your own soul and invite others to your dinner table? Working parents, are you busting your tail at a demanding job to have an extra vacation or nicer things for the kids that would far prefer you home another night a week? Are you the watchman in Psalm 127, working extra long hours for nothing?
To anyone currently employed: does your role or company or culture at work, require you to violate your rule of life? Will the next strategic move in your career break the rule? Will one more late night at the office to catch up (you and I both know you won’t) break the rule?
If you begin using your rule of life, you may have some big decisions, but you’re also going to have a fighting chance at experiencing the beauty and power of Psalm 131. If you give it a look, I think you’ll quickly see why it’s worth it. But let me tell you why anyway, in the next installment.