What rod do we use to measure a person’s life? Is it the amount of time they spend toiling here on earth? Is it the minutes, hours, days, years that one has survived? Is it the money and possessions that one has accumulated over the course of a life time? Is it fame and recognition? The number of children and grandchildren that have sprung from one’s loins? Or is it something else entirely?
Truthfully, I can’t answer that one. I have heard too many times that this person or that died too young. Or they had so much more they could have achieved if only they had been given more time. But our lives are not our own, but rather a gift from God, to be used by us to bring glory to God and to help make the world a better place. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to be great, wonderful and happy. Contrary to what some preachers say, it may be just the opposite. It may be a life full of pain, suffering and an early death. It may be that the sole purpose of your life is to reach out to one person, and only one person and teach and show them what God’s grace and mercy are truly about. That one person might be the next great evangelist that leads millions to a personal relationship with God.
I’ve known people who’s entire lives have revolved around making and keeping money. Not that there is anything wrong with making money, it is what has made our capitalist system the greatest economic engine in the history of the world. It is how they have made their money that is important. Proverbs 11:1 puts it clearly, “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.” That’s why when I read about the Madhoffs of the world, or see people that have sacrificed family, friends and loved ones to pursue greater wealth I have to laugh. They have used “dishonest scales” to make their money. Life is a balancing act, between success and family. I will admit that I have been a lousy “family man” having done my own thing for most of my life, and failing miserably at being a father and husband. The ironic thing is that my failures have never been in pursuit of money (just look at my bank account) but out of a desire to fix and correct the wrongs of society. The thing is, that was just as bad as the man who chases after gold.
I know I will never be famous, infamous perhaps in some people’s eyes, but never famous. And for that I am grateful. When you read the papers or watch the news and see how this person or that, who has achieved fame and recognition, has their lives destroyed by their own fame it breaks my heart. The young man or woman who started out as someone’s child ends up dead in some expensive hotel with a needle in their arm. What price did their fame cost them? Yes, society need its “heroes” but what is a “hero”? Is it the actor who does a portrayal of some fictional character in a movie? Is it the NFL or NBA “star” that scores a winning touchdown or three pointer? Is it the writer who so deftly brings to life characters on a page? Or is it the teacher who toils quietly in the classroom, trying to instill a love of learning? Is it the fire fighter who risks their life to save a child in a burning home? The police officer who daily dons the uniform to protect us from the miscreants of society? The military person who longs to see his new born child, yet continues to battle those that would destroy what this country stands for? Who is the hero?
Like I said, I don’t have the answers as to how we measure a person’s life. But for me, a successful life is one that is lived to its fullest, taking the adversities that we are given and working through them to the best of our abilities. I do firmly believe that God will never give us more than we can handle. Even on those days where we just want to lie in bed and cry, God is there with us. When the tears stop flowing, and we regain our composure, we need to get up and continue.
Life isn’t “fair”or “unfair” it just is. It is how we deal with life that makes us who we are. And perhaps that is the measure of the person.