We all want to "really" live, to have a full and meaningful life. Yet if we were honest, most would have to say that that desire seems out of reach. We think that if we "just won the lottery" or "had the right mate" or "that home on the lake" then... ahh, life as it was meant to be. Many have strived after these things only to find a hollow emptiness aching in the pit of their soul. Is "life" really obtainable?
As chaplain for the Brainerd Good Samaritan Care Centers I have the privilege of giving out the "secret" to this riddle. I own a tall dollar store mug inscribed with the words "Live, Laugh, Love." I have come to believe that the word order on my mug holds a key to the frustration of many. We strive to "live." We buy stuff and go places and feed that pit in our soul with all kinds of pleasures to no real satisfaction. We cover over our pain with "laugh" but underneath, a tear. We end by giving "love" a shot but still feel alone.
One day Jesus was asked, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" In affect this man was asking the same question everyone asks, "What do I have to do to experience life?" Jesus did not choose commandment 1, 2, 3... or 10. He replied, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Luke 12:28-31 Now if you are sharp you saw that we are "commanded" to love as of first import. Before we can really live we must love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Only when we own God's love for us personally can we then take His love and love our neighbor. The Good Samaritan Society affirms that we have an obligation to love as of first import. When you consider this it makes sense. You cannot truly love others with a true Godly love until you know and own His love for you. God is love. He demonstrates that love for you each day yet many even reading that line will ask, "How does God love me?" demonstrating that we do not yet know His love. Besides the countless blessings, provisions and protections He gives, the greatest act of love for us is found at the cross of Christ. He "so loved you that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish in hell but have everlasting life with Him in Heaven."
This obligation to love is God's sneaky way to find a great opportunity to live. He made us to live. Jesus said, "I came that you might have life and life abundantly." John 10:10. Life is not about stuff or pleasures or "me." Life is found in giving and serving. It is truly much more "blessed to give than to receive" in His love.
The outcome of all this is the last word on our list: laugh. You will know that you have loved and are experiencing life when a deep sense of joy wells up in laughter and peace. How about you? Want to live?