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Rev. Charles Johnson

 
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A Wasted Life

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Life is energy. Life is precious, too precious to waste. Recently, a lady I know passed away. To avoid embarrassment to very close friends of mine, we will call her Jackie.

If there ever was a person blessed with talent, Jackie was blessed with talent, a marvelous voice that made songs come alive. Jackie had a tremendous sense of humor literally one of the funniest people I have ever met. Her sense of humor gave her a unique outlook on life that made you laugh when she put things into perspective. Intelligent would be another way to describe Jackie. She was a college graduate with a life-long devotion to reading and learning.

Obviously, with so much talent you would think that Jackie was destined to live the “American dream” and live happily ever after. But Jackie had a very serious problem in her life that would lead her to a downward spiral. No, Jackie did not have a drug or alcohol problem. Jackie did not have any addictions that would make her life come crashing down. Jackie had a problem with bitterness.

As I observed Jackie's life, I would be the first to admit that an unusually large number of hurts had come her way. But I can also say that the way Jackie chose to handle those hurts allowed her to become a bitter person. The space constrictions of this article will not allow me to write about all of the hurts that came her way, but let me simply say there were many.

Jackie died not too long ago. She died alone. A close relative of mine and I arrived at her house and found her slumped in a chair. We tried administering CPR, but she was gone. Emergency personnel were called and the scene became a little surreal. As the events of the evening settled down and I began to think of Jackie's life and now her death, I couldn't help but look at her as she lay lifeless on the floor and think, “a wasted life.”

Hebrews 12:15-17 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

In the preceding passage of scripture I put three words in bold type -- bitterness, Esau, tears. The book of Hebrews uses a familiar Old Testament story to teach a very important truth. Several times in the life of Esau we see that his bitterness was the driving force in his decision-making process. He seemed to make his decisions based not on the will of God or even what was in his best interest. On several occasions he seemed to make decisions with one intent in mind -- to hurt other people, no doubt to hurt people he thought had hurt him. The Bible gives us two separate accounts of Esau's marrying heathen girls simply to “get back” at his parents.

Realistically, there might have been a little room for hurt because of some injustice done to Esau. But his reaction -- bitterness -- to the injustices of life caused him to live “a wasted life.”

Jackie chose to deal with those hurts in the same manner so many people do, by allowing bitterness to creep into her life. Jackie, like Esau, started making her decisions not in light of what God says, but in light of the best way to “get back” at those people who “hurt” her. Like Esau, Jackie, by the choices she made and her actions, was saying, “I'll show you!”

Teenager let me simply say this, base your decisions on the Word of God and what the Lord would have you to do. Don't allow the injustices and the hurts caused by family, Christian workers, or anyone else cause you to make decisions to hurt them. When you make decisions to hurt someone else, you ultimately end up hurting yourself.

Remember, you can decide to forgive those who have hurt you. You can turn it over to the Lord and let Him take care of it for you. I know this is a lot easier said than done, but it can be done. Don't ever allow bitterness to creep into your life. Remember the last word in the passage from Hebrews -- tears. That's what bitterness brings, a whole lot of tears, tears over “a wasted life.” Make your life count! Your life is full of energy that can be channeled toward bringing the lost to Christ, toward making a difference in this world, toward leaving this world a little better than when you found it. I think that is why the expression “a wasted life” makes me feel so uncomfortable. Life is too precious to waste. Talents are too valuable to squander. Your life here on earth is too short to fill it with mistakes.

As the potential for bitterness comes into your life, remind yourself that bitterness leads to “a wasted life.”
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