How is Life to be lived?

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It is amazing how different we all are when it comes to personal interests. There are people who fish, travelers, scrapbook enthusiasts, gardeners, birdwatchers, restorers of old cars, photographers, mountain climbers, historians, doctors, cooks, skydivers, painters, landscapers, musicians, joggers, poets, bug collectors, mathematicians, comedians, animal lovers, star gazers, architects… Whoa!! I had better stop before I fill the entire article with a list of people’s interests. It seems a God of infinite diversity has created the human race with a vast variety of individuality, no two of us exactly alike.

Our individual interests are what seemingly lead us to our life vocations and enjoyable hobbies. When I contemplate the earth and universe God has created, it fits us, for there appears to be potential access to whatever we need that will allow us to fulfill the things we like, and may be called to do. Apparently, God expects life to be lived by taking advantage of the diverse options offered us and busying ourselves with all sorts of activities involving life’s discoveries, relationships, work, and fun.

Think of all the things we do in a typical day, and over our lifetime. Think of the memories we have accumulated over the years. Think of the vacations and holidays and special events you have enjoyed. Think about where your job has taken you and the volunteering you have done to promote good causes and help others in need. Just today, I was able to spend time with my five-year-old grandson. He ran errands with me and then I took him to the library for preschool story hour. At home, I read him the book he picked out at the library, fixed him lunch, watched a movie with him, played floor hockey, and taught him a song. During the day, I hugged and kissed my wife, and in the early evening, we attended our older grandson’s high school tournament basketball game, which they lost on a buzzer-beater. When we got home, to unwind, we worked some crossword puzzles and watched a fun movie.

As much as we wish God’s world was all-good, unfortunately, the world presents us with some not so good times, and all of us seem to have our share of pain and suffering.

As much as we wish God’s world was all-good, unfortunately, the world presents us with some not so good times, and all of us seem to have our share of pain and suffering. A couple days ago, I met with my brothers and sister to discuss our father’s future. He has been fairly healthy all his life, but now is suffering ill health, stroke conditions, and can no longer take care of himself. We decided to place him into an end-of-life hospice care facility. He is 97. As a World War II vet, he’s seen his share of evils. Death comes to all of us and not always under pleasant conditions. Evil and death in this world changes our perspective. We may wonder what life is all about and do we make a difference.

There is clearly another aspect of life that needs to be in the mix. I wonder how many people include God in how life is to be lived. Three words describe how God would have us live: faith, hope, and love. Faith believes God exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith in God recognizes how he has blessed us with an interesting world and life, and causes us to be thankful to him. Jesus once healed ten men; only one came back to thank him. God speaks to us in Psalm 50 and says, “Consider this, you who forget God…the one who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me.”

Hope is much needed as a way to live, but God’s promised hope is rarely understood. He has a promised plan for the future of this world, and for our individual lives. By faith in God, my dad is comforted knowing that he has a future with God. But hope is not something he ignored until his last days. Hope causes us to prepare for our future. Hope is not something we wish for; God’s hope is what is certain to come. When we know what is coming, we prepare for it as a part of our daily living. When I knew a backpacking trip in the mountains was coming, I spent weeks running to build up stamina for hiking the steep paths. I collected the needed items so I would be prepared to meet the conditions I would face. Hope causes us to live a certain way.

Finally, need I say how much the world and our daily lives needs the love of God. Not only do we need to be loved by him, but also life is best lived when we take the love he gives us, and give it to others. These three words, faith, hope, and love, when understood and practiced from God’s point of view, will erase the question mark in how life is to be lived.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.