Friday, August 8, 2008

Living a Fulfilled Life

Next time your day goes south, here is what you do.

Steep yourself in the grace of God. Saturate your day in His love. Marinate your mind in His mercy. He has settled your accounts, paid your debt. Because of these facts, you can live a fulfilled life!

"Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross." 1 Peter 2:24 NCV

Fulfilled. What a word! Two simple syllables and yet so elusive for our frazzled and restless hearts. Who among us hasn't yearned for something even faintly resembling fulfillment in our frantic, demanding, "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world?

Fulfilled is a great word—the only problem is finding it. Oh, we can crack open a dictionary and "find" is easily enough, right there between "fulcrum" and "fulgent"…but the trick is moving beyond Webster's and finding it in the pages of our lives. Can you find fulfillment while living an "ordinary life?" I believe that fulfillment comes through Jesus Christ. You can live your life focusing on your finances, your job, your education, your family and never find true fulfillment. When you focus on Jesus, he can give you purpose for living and hope for tomorrow. I would like to share a thought with you from a devotion that I read today from Max Lucado. I believe it will bless you, as it blessed me.

An hour of contentment. A precious moment of peace. A few minutes of relaxation. Each of us has a setting in which contentment pays a visit. Early in the morning while the coffee is hot and everyone is asleep. Late at night as you kiss your six-year-old’s sleepy eyes. In a boat on a lake when memories of a life well lived are vivid. In the arms of a spouse. At Thanksgiving dinner or sitting near the Christmas tree.

An hour of contentment. An hour when deadlines are forgotten and strivings have ceased. An hour when what we have overshadows what we want. An hour when we realize that a lifetime of blood sweating and headhunting can’t give us what the cross gave us in one day—a clean conscience and a new start.

But unfortunately, in our squirrel cages of schedules, contests, and side-glancing, hours like these are about as common as one-legged monkeys. In our world, contentment is a strange street vendor, roaming, looking for a home, but seldom finding an open door. This old salesman moves slowly form house to house, tapping windows, knocking on doors, offering his wares: an hour of peace, a smile of acceptance, a sigh of relief. But his goods are seldom taken. We are too busy to be content. (Which is crazy, since the reason we kill ourselves today is because we think it will make us content tomorrow.)

“Not now, thank you. I’ve too much to do,” we say. “Too many marks to be made, too many achievements to be achieved, too many dollars to be saved, too many promotions to be earned. And besides, if I’m content, someone might think I’ve lost my ambition.”

So the street vendor named Contentment moves on. When I asked him why so few welcomed him into their homes, his answer left me convicted. “I charge a high price, you know. My fee is steep. I ask people to trade in their schedules, frustrations, and anxieties. I demand that they put a torch to their fourteen-hour days and sleepless nights. You’d think I’d have more buyers.” He scratched his beard, then added pensively, “But people seem strangely proud of their ulcers and headaches.”

We can learn so much when we take the time to re-examine the life of Jesus, and the way he lived a fulfilled life, and took the time to be content with the purpose of His time on earth.

"Is not this the carpenter?" (Mark 6:3).

Jesus' neighbors spoke those words. Amazed at his latter-life popularity, they asked, "Is this the same guy who fixed my roof?"

Note what his neighbors did not say:
"Is not this the carpenter who owes me money?"
"Is not this the carpenter who swindled my father?"
"Is not this the carpenter who never finished my table?"

No, these words were never said. The lazy have a hard time hiding in a small town. Hucksters move from city to city to survive. Jesus didn't need to. Need a plow repaired? Christ could do it. In need of a new yoke? "My neighbor is a carpenter, and he will give you a fair price." The job may have been common, but his diligence was not. Jesus took his work seriously.

And the town may have been common, but his attention to it was not. Mountain flowers in the spring. Cool sunsets. Pelicans winging their way along the streams of Kishon to the Sea of Galilee. Thyme-besprinkled turf at his feet. Fields and fig trees in the distance. Do you suppose moments here inspired these words later? "Observe how the lilies of the field grow" (Matt. 6:28) or "Look at the birds of the air" (Matt. 6:26). The words of Jesus the rabbi were born in the thoughts of Jesus the boy.

The maker of yokes later explained, "My yoke is easy" (Matt. 11:30). The one who brushed his share of sawdust from his eyes would say, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3).

He saw how a seed on the path took no root (Luke 8:5) and how a mustard seed produced a great tree (Matt. 13:31–32). He remembered the red sky at morning (Matt. 16:2) and the lightning in the eastern sky (Matt. 24:27). Jesus listened to his common life.Are you listening to yours? Rain pattering against the window. Silent snow in April. The giggle of a baby on a crowded plane. Seeing a sunrise while the world sleeps. Are these not personal epistles? Can’t God speak through a Monday commute or a midnight diaper change? Take notes on your life. Next time your life feels ordinary, take your cue from Christ. Pay attention to your work and your world. Jesus’ obedience began in a small town carpentry shop. His uncommon approach to his common life groomed him for his uncommon call.

Now that is the best example of living a fulfilled life! I would like to close this blog with the same words that I opened it with: Steep yourself in the grace of God. Saturate your day in His love. Marinate your mind in His mercy. He has settled your accounts, paid your debt. Because of these facts, you can live a fulfilled life! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty