I am convinced that most of us want to do some great thing with our lives. But we labor under the illusion that the doing of authentically great things is reserved for a chosen few. Heroes. Martyrs. Saints. But not for you and me.
But what if the greatest thing is not to go out in a blaze of glory but to honor God with a life that seeks to do his will in the little things? Not to climb the highest mountain but to stay on the uneven course that life has marked out for you? Not dying for your faith but staying true to it over a difficult lifetime?
Try thinking of the 24-hour blocks of your life as bank-fresh bundles of a hundred $1 bills. Your challenge each day is to "spend your life." You can't bank it. You can't save up until you get 500 or 1000. You get a fresh handful of life currency each morning, and any unspent balance evaporates before tomorrow comes.
You spend life assets when you mentor a new employee who is struggling, listen to a friend who is upset, or volunteer to help someone catch up.
You are laying down your life when you are generous with hard-earned money to help someone who has lost her job, a family that is being drained by long-term illness, or the ministries of your church.
You have plunked down a huge chunk of your life in giving birth, praying through your tears for a struggling child, and investing all the time, energy, and passion that go into molding a life for what lies ahead in this challenging world.
You are spending your life capital by putting your love for a fiancee or mate or child above career advancement that moves you from spiritual stability, calls for you to spend far too much time away from people who need you more than money, or calls for you to compromise some central value you have embraced.
The Bible says: "We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us - and we ought to lay down our lives for one another" (1 John 3:16).
Could it be that there are people who would die in bold, heroic moments (i.e., "cash in" everything) who just don't grasp that we must spend the smaller increments of our lives in unselfish, other-directed events that honor God by serving the people he has placed on our paths? What a shame that they never developed a concept of serving God by serving men and women created in his image.
You have today's life capital in hand. Spend it wisely - in small increments of unselfishness here and there. Or lose it completely.
Rubel Shelly has preached for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville since 1978. During that time, he has also taught at David Lipscomb University and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is the author of more than 20 books, including several which have been translated into languages such as Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Russian. He is married to the former Myra Shappley, and they are the parents of three children: Mrs. David (Michelle) Arms, Tim, and Tom. To contact Rubel or to subscribe to his newsletter, Fax of Life, send email to faxOfLife@woodmont.org