Refining Life, on Purpose

To Live Fully Alive, You Must Do More than Exist

What does it mean to be fully alive? Have you ever pondered that? It’s more than merely existing. So release tomorrow’s worries to God, gain a deeper view of God’s love, and gain much in surrender. Resolve to be fully alive at all times!

How can we be fully alive? I mean really and truly fully alive?

There are many ways we go about making it happen. And we might even think we are doing it. Yet, the contentment, satisfaction, and good feelings that made us that way eventually fade. Sometimes it’s thrust from us. Other times, it has slowly eroded without our noticing until we are stuck in the muck. Paralyzed and wondering what the heck happened?

It’s here that I’m reminded of Rick Warren’s 2006 TED Talk, “A Life of Purpose.” In that talk, he said:

And I think it’s because spiritual emptiness is a universal disease. I think inside at some point, we put our heads down on the pillow and we go, “There’s got to be more to life than this.” Get up in the morning, go to work, come home and watch TV, go to bed, get up in the morning, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, go to parties on weekends. A lot of people say, “I’m living.” No, you’re not living — that’s just existing. Just existing.”

So, today, with that in mind, we turn to Jonathan Edwards’ resolution 6. It’s one of his shorter resolutions, but it’s packed with a great deal of complexity and personal accountability that should challenge us all.

Jonathan Edwards Resolution 6

Edwards’ Resolution #6 (as it was written)

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Edwards’ Resolution #6 (in my modernized language)

Resolved: To be fully alive at all times.

An Uncertain Tomorrow Cannot Prevent an Assured Today

Matthew 6:34 is a fairly familiar verse of scripture. It speaks to how we can and should live fully in our precious moments.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

One of the most common observations found in most commentaries about this verse is the fact that worrying about tomorrow is a veiled display of a lacking faith. You might wonder how that can be. You say you trust in God, yet you worry about things that are absolutely out of your control. And you fixate on them. You prepare yourself mentally for how you might respond if things go one way or the other. And you play it over and over again in your mind.

Ever do that and then the thing you most worried about, that thing that you spent hours pondering, turned out to be a non-event? Yeah, me too. Just think of all the wasted time and emotional energy that could have been better spent!

If you were to look back a few verses, you would be treated to some analogies. You would see that we are intelligent creatures, yet we’re tricked into worry unlike the less wiser of God’s creatures who always find their fill. You’d also learn about the lilies of the field. They do nothing but look up (a simple lesson there, eh?) and they are given their proper shelter for their enduring faith.

Quite simply, worry does not add one more tick to our finite time as we exist. So consider the animals, the lilies and all your wasted worry. Give it over to God and have faith that he provides. I can attest, he surely does.

Experience Love and Life

With less worry filling our minds, there is more focus on the present. And therefore, we gain an ability to more fully enjoy it. This is where a verse from one of my favorite books comes in:

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

This is an absolutely awesome verse. Why? Because Paul encourages us to experience the love of Christ, even though we cannot possibly fully understand it. You see, such love is a love that is fully inclusive. It’s not exhaustive. And it’s not conditional.

Why can’t we understand it? Well, for starters, we have a tragically distorted view of love.

We may think we can understand a love that I just described. However, can you honestly take yourself one-hundred percent out of your loving relationship, making it one-hundred percent about the other? Maybe you can. I know I can’t. I like to think I am better today than yesterday and that I will be better tomorrow. And the next day. But I will probably always have a smidge of grey where I long to exist. Where it is about me and not the other.

You see, we have distorted our understanding of love to mean something that is limited, conditional, tiresome and often circumstantial. We are therefore compelled to fill the void where we long to exist with our own machinations. We then find ourselves loving for the wrong reasons. In this respect, it’s more about what you do for me than the other way around.

That’s not love. That’s short-lived dependency.

Gain the Fullness of Life

Think about a life without anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and doubt. One that is free of addictions that we use to fill us but instead are enslaved to. We, in fact, fall under control of those addictions.

It’s impossible to be fully alive when we allow our lives to be full of muck.

What does it mean to be fully alive? Have you ever pondered that? It’s more than merely existing. So release tomorrow’s worries to God, gain a deeper view of God’s love, and gain much in surrender. Resolve to be fully alive at all times!

What does it mean to be fully alive? Have you ever pondered that? It’s more than merely existing. So release tomorrow’s worries to God, gain a deeper view of God’s love, and gain much in surrender. Resolve to be fully alive at all times!

Gain from God

I really believe that one of the biggest objections to Christianity is the reluctance of individuals to admit they need help and that they cannot do things of their own. Evidence of this is all around.

For instance, in issue 91 of Relevant Magazine, comedian and actor, Russell Brand opens up about life, faith, addiction and service to others. Much of the conversation centers around his experiences in seeking sobriety, specifically with the help of the well-known 12 step program.

A component of that program is the acknowledgement of a higher power. That’s a radical concept for some. However, it also includes self-reflection and forgiveness in addition to much more. While I cannot say I have intimate experience with it, what I do know leads me to understand it as a guide toward restoration.

Flawed. Broken. Imperfect. Mucked up. Whatever you want to call it, we’re at the mercy of our creator.  In surrender (in loss), you gain much!

As Brand explains, “it isn’t about changing behavior, it’s about changing oneself.”

Why did Edwards resolve to be fully alive at all times? Because anything less provides an opportunity for less. And in that opportunity creeps complacency and an eventual acceptance of status quo and mediocrity.

Essentially, just existing.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.