Making Your Life Count

If Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning walk off homer to win the World Series wasn’t the greatest home run in history, it was certainly the most timely.  It was the 7th game, the score was tied 9-9, and when Ralph Tenney threw him a high curve ball, Mazeroski took advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity and knocked it out of the park.

Seldom do we think of our  lives from the same perspective, but I think the principle is the same.  Our time on this earth is fleeting. While we are alive, we have one chance to make the right choice, to do the right thing, and to make a lasting mark on the world.

How can we make this one and only life count?  What can we do to ensure that we don’t miss the important opportunities and live with regret?  Let me suggest 5 ways you can make your life count.

1. Take A Chance

When I was in college, I had a secret dream of being a physician.  Although I ultimately ended up in a medical career, I didn’t become a doctor.  Why?  Because I didn’t have confidence in myself to pass the entry tests.  I was afraid to take a chance, so I settled for something less.

Although I’ve moved on and done well in life, I frequently wondered what might have been had I been brave enough to take a chance.  I learned that the long term feelings of regret is worse than the short term pain of failure.

2. Choose Faith Over Fear

Fear comes in many forms: fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, and fear of the unknown.  Fear produces the paralysis of the analysis, where decision making and forward motion in life come to a standstill.  Until every eventuality can be understood, there can be no progress.  Before we know it, the opportunity has come and gone, and life has passed us by.

We have a choice in life- we can act out of fear, or we can act out of confident faith.  How sad it is to miss out on the best in life because we were afraid to walk without fear.

3. Learn How To Play

I was listening to a podcast this week that offered some stunning research findings: One hour of playing video games was more effective in treating chronic depression than medication or therapy.  Play provides a shot of dopamine into our brains, which we interpret as pleasure.  I’m not necessarily advocating quitting your job and becoming a video gamer, but there are measurable benefits to those who carve out some regular chances to have fun.

4. Offer Forgiveness

Hurt can be difficult to move past.  Yet refusing to let go of anger and bitterness can ruin your life.  Unfortunately, many people misunderstand what forgiveness is all about.  Forgiveness is not about excusing or minimizing the offense.  It’s not about forgetting what happened.  Forgiveness is an empowering, freeing decision to move forward with life without allowing past hurts to affect the present or future.  The past no longer has power.  That’s when freedom is born.

5. Nourish Your Spirit

So many people spend their lives caring for their physical bodies while ignoring their spirits.  We watch our diets, exercise, read, learn, work, play, and sleep with the purpose of maximizing our health.  Yet few people go to the same lengths to care for their spirits.

Our spirits have needs just as our physical bodies do.  Our spirits need to be fed, to be refreshed, to be challenged, and to learn submission.  Most of all, they need to be reconciled to the God who created them.

When Bill Mazeroski was interviewed in the clubhouse after his heroic home run, he said, “I just wanted to hit the ball hard and put it into play.”  And he did.

Although our lives are not World Series baseball games, we must take advantage of the unique opportunity that is our individual life.  We only have one life.  We get one chance, and there are no do overs.  There is nothing sweeter than making good on a chance of a lifetime.  Just ask Bill Mazeroski.

What can you add to my list?  I hope you’ll write a few lines in the comment section with your own suggestions.

God and Making Decisions

We’ve all been there before.  A job offer in another city comes along, but there are pros and cons.  We’ve fallen in love, and we wonder if this person is the one.  There’s an important decision to be made.  So we begin to pray and ask God to guide us toward the choice that is best for us and pleases Him.  But how does that work?  How can we tell which way He is leading us?  Allow me to offer some guidelines from my experiences of both getting it right and wrong.

The first step in sensing God’s leadership takes place within us.  If you truly want to hear from God and do what He wants you to do, then you must be willing to accept whatever God says.  In other words, either option must be equally OK.   So many people approach this process unwilling to hear anything except what they want to hear, and their prayers are prayed to obtain God’s stamp of approval on their desires.  If you’ve already made up your mind, then there’s little point in asking God to lead you.

“If you’ve already made up your mind, then there’s little point in asking God to lead you.”

Once you are willing to accept whatever God directs, you’re ready to begin asking and listening.  I like to be alone for this part of the process.  Get somewhere quiet and begin to lay out each option.  Make a list of the positive and negatives of each choice, carefully considering what life would look like if that were God’s choice for you.

Then begin to be quiet and listen.  What are you listening for?  You’re listening for peace.  An wise, elderly pastor gave me some advice I’ll never forget.  He said, “The way of God is the way of peace.”  If you lay out each option before God and don’t rush God’s answer, you will begin to feel a sense of peace in one direction or the other.  That will likely be God’s choice for you.  The other direction will give you sense of uneasiness and trepidation.

There are two dynamics in this process that will work against you.  The first is already having your mind made up before you begin.  The other is impatience.  Rarely have I prayed and received God’s answer before I said Amen.  Sometimes it’s taken a couple of days or more, and more than once the circumstance changed while I was waiting, and the answer became crystal clear.

Hearing God’s voice can be very difficult, and I don’t mean to imply that there is a simple formula that evokes a response from God whenever we desire one.  On the contrary, hearing from God happens strictly on His timetable and not ours.  But I also know that God delights in leading our lives and answering our prayers, and we approach Him with humility, no agenda, and patience, God will speak to us.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  And if you have more to add to this process, I would invite your comments.