If you have ever woken up and asked yourself, “Have I already had the best moment of my life?” You are not alone. If I am honest, I can admit that I have asked this question far more than once in the limited life I have thus far had. Its not that I think overly high things of past events gone by; I have had some highs and some lows however they would make for a relatively mundane screenplay. More so, I look back and ask, will it ever be better than that? Will it be better than this? Should I be waiting for something more, or has what I should be waiting for already passed?
I will never forget a rainy evening in early spring, my sophomore year in high school. I was a sprinter and hurdler on the track team and although I looked relatively athletic, I was pretty decent. It was the conference meet, one of the biggest meets of the year, and I had made it into the finals of the 200m sprint (half way around the track for those of you unfamiliar). There were eight of us, and if all went according to plan, I would finish sixth, still not bad as a sophomore. I remember there was a senior from my team in the finals with me. He was revered as an unbelievably fast runner and overall a great athlete. Surely he would take first, and the rest of the field would follow behind. We got in to the blocks, my heart was pounding, and then, the gun went off.
I shot out of the start racing the curve of the track on the first 100m. When I got around the curve, I could see that no one was yet ahead of me or next to me (which meant I was in the lead). I sped forth down the straight to the finish and as I crossed I was met by a few members of my team and one of my coaches. They all looked baffled and confused. “Did you just…win?” I remember being asked by my coach, to which I responded, “I think so,” (still waiting to figure out why no one had crossed the finish line before me (turns out I just ran faster).
If I were honest once more, I would concede that I have longed to repeat that moment more than once: the excitement, the surprise, and the victory. And yet, it has passed forever, to be fondly remembered but never repeated. It is kind of a silly thing, to hold such a fleeting moment in such high regard, and yet we all do it, with a race, with a conversation, with a date, with whatever you choose, we all look back and wonder, is that they best it will get?
The writer of Ecclesiastes is likely best known for his contribution to a fairly popular Beetles song; through eleven and a half chapters, the write chronicles simple truths from a lifetime of wisdom. They cover everything from business, to social interaction to political reverence. Near the conclusion the writer exclaims, “Meaningless, meaningless,” “Everything is meaningless.” Wow, what a relief, nothing matters. The writer however is not a nihilist, nor an early student of Nietzsche. In the few remaining prose the writer reflects, “now that all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being.” (Ecc. 12:13)
Really? All life is about is fear and rules? I was so disappointed when I first read that passage. “What and idiot,” I thought, there has got to be more to life than that. And there is…
This doesn’t mean the writer is wrong he is just misunderstood commonly. When he speaks of fear, he doesn’t speak of discomfort and trembling, he speaks of reverence and acknowledgement. Know who God is, in all his power, all his glory, and acknowledge him for that. Secondly, keeping the commandments isn’t about rules, its about having a healthy life. Acknowledge God, we covered that, don’t steal, lie, murder, covet, etc. All these things will decrease your quality of life, either through guilt, punishment, or lack of joy.
I read that book however and I am reminded, it is not about the great moment, it is about a great life…
When I graduated from High school, my track coach gave me a gift. He built a shadowbox and inside placed a picture of me sprinting. Next to it he inscribed a verse, 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” As Paul, one of the greatest evangelists and church planters ever (who also wrote a great deal of the New Testament) was reflecting on his life and handing over his life’s work to his apprentice, he stated that verse. Paul had reflected on all that he had done, and not reminisced about fleeting moments that have gone by, but acknowledging that it wasn’t just about small moments, it was about having a great life.
That is a verse I have already decided I want read at my funeral, not in mourning, but in celebration. I hope that when I reach the end, someone can say of me not that I have simply had some great moments, but that I fought well and fair when life got difficult and I didn’t give up on my family, my friends, or myself. That I ran a good race, start to finish, for years upon years and finished it. And that through everything I remembered that God is faithful, that every moment spent without God, every bit of wealth, every success, is meaningless, and that I kept the faith.
My hope and my prayer is that I can wake up and not continue to ask, have I already had the best moment of my life, but Is my life creating great moments. We shouldn’t be afraid that our best moments have passed us by. If we do, we will likely live that belief into reality. Instead we should live in anticipation, that our life still has plenty more great moments to come and then we should go make them.
But I still wouldn’t mind running that race again…