I have heard many times that we need to live life to the full. We just need to live. Period. I may actually be sick of hearing this message. The reason is , no matter how often I hear it, I never know quite how to apply it.
I want to live well, to use my time wisely, but how? How do I know what’s worthwhile?
And even if I know, what if I don’t want to do it?
And even if I want to do it, what if I can’t?
Why does this have to be so hard?
Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it just seems hard because we make it so. That’s probably not news to you.
There’s this song that I happen to really like, and it’s not a Disney sequel one. This one is by One Republic is I am not confusing my band names. Perhaps you’ve heard it, it’s called “I lived.” I read on Wikipedia that one of the band member wrote this song for his son, and such songs are typically the best, because though we don’t know what we want, we have much clearer vision for what we want our children to have. (Even if they aren’t our children, but just children we care about.)
But I love this song because of what it exhorts the listener to do.
Hope when you take that jump, you won’t feel the fall.
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall.
Hope when that crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name.
Hope if everybody runs, you’ll choose to stay.
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad, the only way you can know is give it all you have.
And I hope that you don’t suffer, but take the pain.
Hope when your moment comes you’ll say: “I, I did it all. I, I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. And with every broken bone, I swear I lived.”
I literally get chills just typing these words out, they are so good.
There’s a verse in the Bible that has been made into a song, (as many of them have) but also expanded upon. It goes like this “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
The song tweaks it to “Teach me to number my days, and count every moment, before it slips away. To take in all the color, before they fade to gray. I don’t want to miss, even just a second more of this.”
What these two songs are telling us is very true. And the reason they use the analogies they do is because we understand better that way.
The first song is talking about how we need to live. We need to take jumps of faith, and if our faith is in the right thing, we won’t feel the fall. We need to face the storms of life and build walls to protect ourselves and those close to us. Now, the crowd screaming your name thing can be see many ways, but the best light to put it in, is that we will do so much good that we will be cheered on.
It is so important to me that the writer of the song used the word hope. No parents can make their child do any of these things, they all involve wisdom on the child’s part, and courage, and faith. But it is what a parent should want and prepare their child for. But it get even better.
To hope that falling in love will hurt sounds strange, but it is wisdom. Love, when it is purest, strongest, and most unfailing, hurts the lover. It won’t hurt all the time, but the ability to love so much that it hurts is the ability to have perhaps the highest human connection. I speak of true love, not the pain of unmet desire, that is something else entirely. That kind of love requires you giving it all you have, and that is a great thing.
To stay when everyone else runs, to not suffer, but to view it as taking the pain. Why, that is encouraging bravery, and not being the victim but the hero.
Seriously, I love this father’s prayer. It is like a prayer.
In the chorus of the song we get to the end goal, that the child will one day look back on their life and say “I lived.”
There’s a movie “Secondhand Lions,” which I recommend. It tells the story of two men who had an amazing life, and passed on what they learned form it to their nephew, Walter. At the end of the movie, the grandchildren of one of the two uncles old foes, a wealthy sheik, show up at their house, and one of them says to Walter. “So those two men form Grandpa’s stories, they really lived?” And Walter says the most powerful line of the movie “Yeah, they really lived.”
I hope that will be said of me when I am gone. Or that I will be able to say it of myself.
It’s not what you do so much as how you do it. If you put your whole heart into it, that is living.
But there is the possibility of living for the wrong thing, and that is where the second song comes in. We only live for a short time. And even if we have good motives, we can easily direct them into the wrong pursuit.
That’s why it’s so important for the Christian to live for God. To do what is right, and what is helpful, not just what we enjoy. I maybe just lost you there. “Another message about how I can’t do what I want, yada, yada, yada.” Well, sorry. I don’t pretend never to struggle with this myself.
But I think that is because I forget the message of these two songs, (and every other form I’ve been told it in.) You don’t give your life meaning, but you can make it meaningful.
See, God gives life. He gives it meaning. But what you do with it, that may be left up to you.
“I lived” get to this as well.
Hope that you spend your days, so they all add up.
And when that sun goes down, I hope you raise your cup.
I wish that I could witness, all of your joy, and all of your pain. But until my moment comes I’ll say…
When all your days add up it should amount to something. Read that again.
Let me repeat, God gives your life meaning, you make it meaningful. That is not saying you have to make an effort to be important. You already are important, and many of us actually wish we weren’t because we see how we negatively affect other people without intending to do so.
No, what I’m saying is, you can pursue worthwhile things, like making other people’s lives better, and even more crucially, worshipping God; or, you can live your life like it was a credit card given to you with no max. You may use it all up on conveniences, but in the end the credit means nothing because there is no such thing as infinite provision without you working for it somehow. You’ll only run up a debt of time.
If you owe something your time, and don’t pay up, you lose your soul. That’s because time is the medium through which we even come to know and grow our soul, it is what God has given us to use for this purpose.
We, as the songs say, need to allot time for many things. For love; for adventure; for serving others; for Faith, foremost of all; and for enjoyment; and for taking in the colors, the rich beauty around us, if we only have eyes to see it.
“That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Yes, if we realize how our time is precious to us, we gain wisdom. I don’t know about you, gut that’s a kind of wisdom I’m still acquiring, I don’t think I have it yet. But I hope I will continue to learn it.
Maybe there will be some broken bones along the way, I am positive there will be broken hearts, but those can heal. So, when the moment comes when you’ll look back on your life, I hope you’ll say “I really lived.”