December 13, 2013
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man (or woman) is he (she) that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he (she) may see good?”
Psalm 34: 11, 12
King James Version
“Living The Good Life” – Part 1
“What Is ‘The Good Life’?”
“One person who has mastered life is better than a thousand persons who have mastered only the contents of books, but no one can get anything out of life without God.”
How would I define the phrase, “the good life?”
Do I believe I am living “the good life?”
If not, why not?
“Living a good, decent, Christian life is what’s important, live that life and the rest will follow.”
“Live while you live, the epicure would say, and seize the pleasures of the present day; Live while you live, the sacred preacher cries, and give to God each moment as it flies.
Lord, in my views, let both united be; I live in pleasure when I live to Thee.”
Epigram in His Family Arms
Not long ago, I read that the large Galapagos Turtles live to around the age of 150 years. This prompted me to think about what I would do in my life if I knew, with certainty, I’d live for 150 years. And what, may I be so bold to ask, would you do with your life if you had this many years on planet earth?
I know I’d be interested in what kind of quality of life I would have. However, if I were promised a “good life,” whatever that means to me, I’d be delighted to have the time 150 years would grant me.
As I thought about what people call the “good life,” I got to doing a little research on how people in our world define what the phrase, “good life,” means. Interestingly, people outside the United States of America, refer to the life we live in this country, as the “good life.” Sometimes you would never know it to hear people in the U.S. talk or from the stories on the news or internet. You might come to the conclusion that our lives are filled with nothing but misery, even when we have so much. This observation is what got me to wondering how we go about describing the “good life” to someone else. Does the “good life” you dream about mean you won the lottery today? Does the “good life” refer to time spent relaxing doing whatever your heart desires? Or is the “good life” something much more than the things we own and the places we have been or the degrees behind our names.
Having been a nurse in my younger years, I recently reread an autobiography about Florence Nightingale, or as she was called, “The Lady With The Lamp”. This devoted Christian woman believed God called her to be a nurse. It was during the Crimean War when she tended, untiringly, for the wounded soldiers that she became known as the light-bearer, making rounds late into the night from bed to bed, rarely taking any time for resting.
What you may not know about Florence Nightingale was that she was born into an extremely wealthy family. Her British family was “rich, upper-class, and well-connected.” She could easily have settled into a life of ease and pleasure, the “good life” as some might call it. However, even though both her mother and sister objected strongly to her choice of nursing as a profession, Florence felt so called by God, she risked the irate feelings of her family to pursue what she repeatedly said was a, “call of God.” Defying traditional female roles, she wrote from Cairo, Egypt that, “God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for Him alone without reputation.”
Those who witnessed her efforts during the Crimean War called her a “ministering angel,” as she “glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”
Some may describe the conditions under which Florence Nightingale lived and served as a “hard life.” She didn’t see things this way. In her own words, while Florence described the struggles of her life as difficult, she wouldn’t have traded her “good life” for any other. “Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take breath and to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work.”
As we consider today what it means to live the “good life,” I want to suggest that we rethink what might be the characteristics of a life we call, “good.” The reason I’m offering this idea for our contemplation is that when we met David as a young man, life was tough as he ran from one mountainous wilderness to another trying desperately to avoid the rabid attacks of King Saul. But during this time in his life, his relationship with his heavenly Father was the closest it had ever been. David’s life was “good.” However, once on the throne of Israel and Judah, with wealth and wives to spare, when it appeared from a worldly view that David had it all and that he was living the “good life,” within the palace walls, we find that much of what was going on was anything but good! David was not immune to problems which tore his “good life” apart. For the next few days, we are going to look at the challenges that not only infiltrated David’s life but can do the same to my life and yours, especially if we allow God’s plan for a “good life” for us to be confused with an earthly perspective of what a “good life” is all about. David’s life is a practical lesson that can teach us the truth. In the words of Colin Urquhart, “God wants us to approach life, full of expectancy that God is going to be at work in every situation as we release our faith in Him.” This we will find, is what living the “good life” is all about!
“Be such a man (woman), and live such a life, that if every man (woman) were such as you, and every life a life like yours, this earth would be God’s paradise.”
“Break into our darkness,
with the light
of Your presence.
Split the cosmic silence
and speak in the void
of our shapeless lives.
Plant seeds of love
in barren hearts;
nourish us with Your
Mould us, so we become
the image of Yourself,
and every face
of our universe
displays the stamp
of Your creative love.
Then help us rest
in You and see
that LIFE is good.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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