Are You Wasting Your Life?
Last week I sat down to talk to a friend I’ve only known for 7 months. He’s been struggling with depression. Since I have his permission, I’d like to share some of his story. We’ll call him John (that’s not his real name). John grew up in a pretty typical environment. Two parents, a sister and a dog. John’s dad and mom both worked in blue collar settings and provided enough for the family. John was an athlete and a weight lifter throughout high school and college. He’s never been abused verbally or physically. If there is anything atypical about John it’s that he’s desperately trying to follow Jesus Christ.
John hasn’t always believed. He was actually a devoted atheist for roughly 6 years. During college John was in a fraternity that openly ridiculed some of the pledges that were Christians. He willingly joked about how Christians were weak minded and fake. His understanding of Christianity was a bunch of judgmental people banding together to do potlucks and talk about how much better they are than other people as they prayed to someone that doesn’t exist. Last year that all changed for John.
Near the end of last year, one of John’s best friends died suddenly. It opened up a box of restlessness for John on a daily basis. So John reached out to a friend who happened to be a friend of mine and John and I started grabbing coffee together. We didn’t talk about Jesus right away. Honestly, I don’t think that’s what he knew he was looking for. We just drank coffee and talked about life. I got to know John and he was able to get to know me. John’s biggest question so far hasn’t been how to stop being depressed or can I be fixed, it’s been, “Am I wasting my life?”
Over a few short months, I’ve had the opportunity to share with him that God chose to come into this world to have a relationship with imperfect people; that Christianity didn’t start with religious authorities or the wealthiest of society. It didn’t get funded by a specialist group in support of purity. It began with the word becoming flesh on earth in the lowest of positions. Jesus was born into poverty and later surrounded himself with fetid smelling fisherman, prostitutes, tax collectors, and liars. He was constantly around people that needed him showing them the way to live full and genuine. If you considered Jesus just another human being you might say he wasted his life. But if Jesus is truly who he says he is then what he chose to waste helps us see how to fully experience his kingdom on earth. John’s response was, “Then I want to waste my life for Jesus.”
Since then John has been courageously open to allowing God to be the forgiving, redeeming God that God wants to be for us. John is finding that by living this genuinely in community he doesn’t have to consider if he is wasting anything. All that is lost or poured out during his life on earth he now sees as a way to be with Jesus. His view of God has pivoted from fake religion to a God that is working a redemption story out in his life and in those around him.
John is still dealing with depression, but he’s learning that a right relationship with God is more like standing bare in front of our Creator and soaking in his love as he mends the wounds. Each of us is learning that we don’t bother God; we’re bothered that he might stop loving us. And he can’t and won’t. It’s not in his character. In the meantime, John has the support of a family of imperfect people being pursued by a perfect God.
What about you?
If this is an emergency, or if you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911), contact a mental health professional, or call and talk to someone at 1–800-SUICIDE (784–2433).
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
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