Back to Square One

 You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning;in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;in the evening it fades and withers.  Ps.  90:6 (NRSV)

If I’m ever going to live the life God wants me to live, it had better be now. One of the hard truths about getting older is that you have the ability to look back on life and see where you invested your life well and where you squandered opportunity.

I spent the first twenty years of my adult life obsessed with my ministry/career. From age 21 to 41 every moment I didn’t spend playing basketball in various city leagues and backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, I spent pursuing my career. I invested in my family during those years as well, but my wife will be the first to tell you that often while I sat in the stands at the little league ball park, my mind was in other places.

And virtually all my creative investment and energy went to the externals of my world. Knowledge, skills, strategies, networks, accomplishments, etc. I spent literally nothing on the internal world of my soul. I read Gordon MacDonald’s book, Ordering Your Private World and agreed with every word and then flipped the switch of denial and never invested in my private world at all. There is a huge difference in learning about something and experiencing it for yourself. Reading about a kiss and experiencing a kiss are not even close to the same.

Consequently when I needed interior strength, when I needed character that came from a deep place in my soul, when I needed artesian resources to withstand the pressures I had created in my external world—I went to that cupboard I found it bare.10552371_10152345381585036_4947308137094876340_n

What is the condition of your soul? Anything in that cupboard? Your soul and your life are inextricably connected together. What does it profit a man, Jesus said, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?

If you are ever going to live the life God wants you to live, it had better be now.

One of my favorite authors is the late Lewis Smedes. I hungrily read his book Shame and Grace 15 years ago and it was instrumental in stocking my empty cupboard of a soul.

Read these thoughtful words:

I bought a brand new date book yesterday, the kind I use every year – spiral-bound, black imitation leather covers wrapped around pages and pages of blank squares. Every square has a number to tell me which day of the month I’m in at the moment. Every square is a frame for one episode of my life. Before I’m through with the book, I will fill the squares with classes I teach, people with whom I ate lunch, everlasting committee meetings I sit through, and these are only the things I cannot afford to forget.

I fill the squares too with things I do not write down for me to remember: thousands of cups of coffee, some lovemaking, some praying, and, I hope, gestures of help to my neighbors. Whatever I do, it has to fit inside one of those squares on my date book. I live one square at a time. The four lines that make up the square are the walls of time that organize my life. Everything I do has to fit into one square.

Each square has an invisible door that leads to the next square. As if by a silent stroke, the door opens and I am pulled through, as if by a magnet, sucked into the next square in line. There I will again fill the time frame that seals me – fill it with my business just as I did the square before. As I get older, the squares seem to get smaller. One day, I will walk into a square that has no door. There will be no mysterious opening and no walking into an adjoining square. One of the squares will be terminal. I do not know which square it will be. (I’ve lost the source for this quote, sorry)

A few years ago at 81 years old, while on a ladder putting Christmas lights up he fell, hit his head and went into a coma and died a few days later. He entered that final square.

You know one day you will enter that square and so will I. Between that day and this day, you have some squares to fill. Nobody knows how many, but you must choose: not your boss, not your corporation, not your spouse, not your kids, not your parents, not your peers, not your church.10603473_10152284196355036_8036006044466409592_n

Sit with this quote from Thoreau, “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

Do you understand what you’ve been given? You fill the squares of your life. Nobody else does that! You will decide how you are going to fill your square.

If you are ever going to live the life God wants you to live, it had better be now. Or as the country song says, “Live like you’re dying.”

Because you are— just like the grass.

About Joe Chambers

I am the beloved of the Most High God. I am an avid reader and writer and have been a continuous learner since my college studies in Ancient Literature and English. I live at the base of Mount Princeton in the Colorado Rockies with my wife of over three decades. I believe I have been put here to tell people that God is not mad at them and to show them the way Home. I am the father of three sons, a daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. I love to read, tell stories, and spend time in the wilderness with my friends and sons.
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2 Responses to Back to Square One

  1. tsteed says:

    This really spoke to me. Very encouraging but frightening at the same time…”..it had better be now.” That line went deep.

  2. Bob Hooper says:

    Thanks again for this one. I am planning to fill a square this next week in the mtns I love, carrying my black powder rifle. I feel sad for those who “strut and fret” their lives away without ever seeing the splender out there that only God could have created.
    Blessings,
    Bob

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