A guest post by Lisa Elliott
In August, 2009 Lisa and her husband David lost their oldest son Benjamin after a heroic battle with cancer at age 19. This loss greatly impacted many others, including ourselves, and I wrote about it at that time. Shortly after, she wrote her story in The Ben Ripple which we reviewed here. We also featured Lisa’s writing in a Facebook excerpt from those days. Recently I stumbled across a more recent article and knew that I needed to help her share it with a larger audience. As I wrestled with whether it was a better fit with Christianity 201 or Thinking Out Loud, I realized I wanted to share it with both sets of readers.
I’ve made it a habit over the past number of years to visit a graveyard every Sunday before church. My purpose, you ask? To metaphorically, but in a very tangible way, and strategically before engaging in a worship service, put to death anything in my life that is dead or dying and especially those things preventing new life from taking root and producing fruit in my life in accordance with John 15. You see, I’ve experienced firsthand that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
You can be sure that the Enemy of our souls wants us to do anything but produce lasting fruit or enable us to live an abundant life—least of all, in our relationship with the Lord; the Lover of our souls, the One who died to give us life and who, in fact, is our life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
I hope you would agree that God has called us to so much more, even in this life, than what we’re often willing to settle for! He’s called us to not merely survive, but rather to thrive; whether it is in our relationships, in our investments, in our ministry, in our vocations, in our churches, or in life as a whole! Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many don’t! Rather, they forfeit the abundant life that He offers for a mediocre, lukewarm survival.
So what does it mean to thrive vs. survive? Here are some principles I have learned to thrive on:
- Life is too short to pretend; to simply fake it until we make it. God calls us to be real, authentic, and transparent, especially in our relationship with Him (A good example is David in the Psalms).
- Life is too short to waste our time, energies, and resources on people who suck the life out of us rather than on those whom we can mutually invest in life-giving ways (Proverbs 13:20).
- Life is too short to use our time on activities that only serve the purpose of wasting our time. Time is precious to the Lord and we need to use it wisely (Ephesians 5:16).
- Life is too short to exist merely for the sake of a paycheck or a pension (Luke 18:18-23; Mark 8:36).
- Life is too short to let the fear of failure, the fear of man, or the fear of the future control us and deprive us of all that God has for us (Psalm 20:7; Matthew 6:25-34).
- Life is too short to indulge in shallow, idol, and meaningless conversation and miss out on meaningful conversation about life and death issues (2 Timothy 2:16).
- Life is too short to hold grudges against people who will hold us captive as long as we allow them to (Colossians 3:13).
- Life is too short to obsess over keeping physically healthy when we should be investing in our spiritual well-being (1Timothy 4:7-9).
- Life is too short to put off investing in and enjoying a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord until “there and then” when we could be investing and enjoying it in the “here and now”(James 4:13-15).
- Life is too short to tolerate gossip and slander when instead we should be encouraging one another, and all the more as the day of Christ draws near (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Life is too short to wait for life to happen when we can choose to make life happen (Proverbs 4:6-10)!
- Life is too short to allow the boulders in our life to be obstacles rather than opportunities to climb to higher heights (Galatians 6:10).
- Life is too short to waste our time longing for the life that was seemingly so much better in Egypt instead of remembering the God who saved you from slavery and brought you through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8).
- Life is too short to wander in the wilderness when God calls us to a land promised to us that is full of life and growth and fruit in abundance (Deuteronomy 8)!
- Life is too short to hold onto the past so dearly that you don’t have the capacity to grasp and embrace all that God is extending to us through the outstretched arms of Jesus (John 3:16).
The bottom line is that life is too short to settle for anything less than what God wants for His children. The question is what are you going to settle for?
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21).
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
Casting Crowns has a song that fits so well into what I’m trying to say. You might want to have a listen:
Lisa Elliott is an award-winning author of The Ben Ripple; Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose and Dancing in the Rain; One Family’s Journey through Grief and Loss. She is a dynamic inspirational speaker; often described as “refreshingly real” as she passionately shares the life-changing truths and principles of God’s Word in her ministry, Straight from the Heart. Additionally, she has appeared on Christian television and radio and is a regular contributor to Just Between Us Magazine. Lisa is also a pastor’s wife, mother of four (3 on earth, 1 in heaven), and is thrilled to have recently joined the grandmother club. She and her husband, David presently live and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario.
Visit her website — there are more articles in the “Straight from a … Heart” series — at www.lisaelliottstraightfromtheheart.webs.com
Like her on Facebook at Lisa Elliott – Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author
Lisa’s books can be purchased directly from her, greatcanadianauthors.com, Amazon, Indigo/Chapters, and Christian bookstores across Canada and throughout the U.S. via Anchor Distributors.