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Live Life to the Full Now

By Laura Bagby
Contributing Writer - Ah, it's a picture-perfect life…
You graduate from high school and then go to college where you discover your life's purpose and you date eligible men. Soon after college graduation, you marry the love of your life. You start a successful career, which brings you a sense of accomplishment. Because of your amazing earning power, you are able to move into that beautiful home with the white picket fence. While still young, you start a family and enjoy the blessings of motherhood. Finally, as you age gracefully, you reap the benefits of raising loving children and grandchildren and of money well invested…

Maybe this has been your experience. Then again, maybe your "American Dream" experience has proved to be elusive at best.

Maybe you are stuck in a dead-end job while all those around you are experiencing satisfying careers. Maybe you are an older, single woman waiting for Mr. Right while others younger than are experiencing marital bliss. Perhaps you have had difficulty starting a family when all your friends are having their second or third child.

Whatever the case, when you are waiting for God to fulfill your deepest desires, you can feel barren, stuck, and unable to move ahead; that is, if you let your expectations or others expectations of when and how things should happen rule your life.

It is my belief now, after having had many pity parties over being single and awaiting a blossoming career, that it isn't what you do or don't have that ultimately makes you happy or unhappy. It is how you approach those "barren" times that is the key to living a full life.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b, NIV). He didn't say life starts only after you get married, or when you finally get pregnant, or when you are healed, or when you land your dream job. No, you can live life to the full now.

Hear me on this one: You are not bound by your circumstances. You can let circumstances keep you bound, causing you to wallow in self pity or to blame others for your ill fate, but ultimately you don't have to answer to your circumstances, because they don't define who you are or what you will become. Your success or failure does not depend on where you are in life right now. You are God's child, and in Him your future is guaranteed to be bright.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That's the good news we learn from Jeremiah 29:11.

But often, we deceive ourselves into believing that God has better plans for others than He has for us, that He is blessing others more than He is blessing us.

If we let our minds follow this line of fallacious reasoning, we can become envious of the circumstances, social status, possessions, or talents of another. This is what the Bible considers "coveting," and it is the quickest way to ruin the work of God in your life.

While we are obsessing about what others have, we inevitably see the lack in our own lives. This makes us dissatisfied. Our jealousy leads to arguments, which will cause rifts in our relationships with others. Eventually, our covetous nature will poison our relationship with the Lord as we start to blame Him for our circumstances.

Did you know that when you accuse the Lord of not giving you what you want while you see others getting it, you are cursing the Lord and denying that all good and perfect gifts come from God (see James 1:17)?

But we don't see it this way. We continue to justify our behavior by reminding the Lord that we deserve to be happy and that we are only asking what others already have. Is it too much to ask the Lord to give us the same as others?

That kind of attitude will get us nowhere. God will not honor any requests made in selfishness and bitterness. He cannot, because He is holy and He is continually in the business of making you and I holy. And being holy means that He must wrench out those filthy motives. We must have clean hearts and hands before Him.

Don't get into the habit of comparing yourself with someone else. For one, it's sin. As it says in 2 Corinthians 10:12, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." We are therefore fools if we keep on measuring ourselves with those around us.

Second, who said you had to have the same timetable as someone else? "Well, so-and-so got married at 21, so I should, too," we reason. But the truth is that we each have our own timetables. In fact, as Christians, we are under God's timetable. We have inherited His day planner.

For some of you, this perspective on time may be frustrating, because God's timing often seems so slow, but I say it is one of the most freeing truths out there. The fact that I am not bound by time, that I am not bound by my own self-impinging deadlines is truly life changing. Knowing that my life is in His hands means I can concentrate less on checking boxes off my own checklist and let Him worry about it. I can take the focus off of myself, because I am not the ultimate ruler of my own destiny.

God says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). For some of us, that is a tough lesson. But when we focus on what we have rather than what we don't have or what others have, we experience joy and peace in knowing that God has provided greatly for us already.

We need not fear that God has forgotten us, because we can see His proven track record of faithfulness. And we need not worry that life is passing us by, because when we are in Christ, time and purpose are in God's hands.

When we focus on what He has done, we are focusing on Him. And when we set our minds on Him and choose to delight ourselves in the Lord, guess what He will do for us? He will give us the desires of our heart! (Check out Psalm 37:4.)

What does delight in Him mean? It means we can't be wasting our time arguing and complaining. It means we can't waste time striving to meet our own timetable. It means we can't waste time wishing we had what others have. All of those ways of thinking and acting will keep us in the wilderness, emotionally bankrupt and spiritually dry.

The way out of our barren moments is to enjoy the Lord right where we are.

You can bloom where you are planted. Give it to the Lord. Maybe it's not your season for marriage. Then it is a season for personal growth. It may not be your season for child-rearing, but it may be your season to reach out to your community. The key is not to waste those precious years where you can have a positive influence on others and be blessed in return.

Life doesn't start at 20 or 30 or 40. Life starts today. And when you mess up or miss the mark or find yourself in disappointing circumstances, you can rest in the mercies of the Lord, which are new every day, and look to Him with a thankful heart as you move through your own seasons of life.

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