Friday, September 5, 2014
"Don't Waste Your Life"
This morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, with the local news creating noise in the background, the program rolled over into the Today show - which gave the first ten minutes to the passing of Joan Rivers. The news of a coalition forming to fight ISIS, or a NATO meeting in Wales about Ukraine, or a third American with Ebola - all of that had to wait until ten minutes could be devoted to Joan Rivers.
I do not pass judgment on the condition of Joan Rivers' heart; however, observations of what I've read of her and her work indicate someone who outwardly was shallow and profane. And when an older woman uses as much Botox as she did, and no doubt a great deal of plastic surgery, just to attempt to keep from looking older - well, that is sad.
Her famous line, from many times asking it of celebrities on red carpets and rope lines, is "Who are you wearing?" She did stand-up comedy and critiqued the fashion choices of stars. Nothing wrong with making people laugh, but that alone is a thin contribution.
This news makes me think of four paragraphs from John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life. I typed them out years ago and re-read them every now and then for perspective. I also use them in school whenever possible. Here they are:
"But I know that not everybody in this crowd wants your life to make a difference. There are hundreds of you - you don't care whether you make a lasting difference for something great, you just want people to like you. If people would just like you, you'd be satisfied. Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife and a couple of good kids and a nice care and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and quick and easy death and no hell - if you could have that (minus God) - you'd be satisfied. THAT is a tragedy in the making.
"Three weeks ago we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over 80. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: To make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing 80 years old, and serving at Ruby's side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over the cliff, and they were both killed instantly. And I asked my people: was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ - two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.
"I tell you what a tragedy is. I'll read to you from Reader's Digest (February 2002) what a tragedy is: 'Bob and Penny. . .took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in . . . Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.' The American Dream: come to the end of your life - your one and only life - and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be 'I collected shells. See my shells.' THAT is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. . .Don't buy it.
"Don't waste your life. It is so short and so precious. I grew up in a home where my father spent himself as an evangelist to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. He had one consuming vision: Preach the gospel. There was a plaque in our kitchen for all my growing up years. Now it hangs in our living room. I have looked at it almost daily for about 48 years. It says, 'Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.'"
Now, I don't think Piper is preaching against collecting shells, or vacationing in Florida, or doing any other common things. But he is giving an example to keep it in perspective. Don't waste your life. Look for opportunities to make a difference in the world for eternity. I pray that I can do that, until my time is done. And I hope that, in private if not shown in public, that Joan Rivers made a more substantial difference as well.