Just Living or Fully Alive?

clock.jpgToday, being Friday, I’m off.  Or, at least I am home.  I’m not complaining.  I’m very grateful just to be home.  


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about staying fresh and alive for the next twenty years.  I am 53 years old.  Not a bad age to be.  In fact, I am really enjoying this time of life.  I’m blessed with good health and have a great family.  However, I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you there are reasons to pay attention to this time of life.


This is what I have seen:

  • Mid-life men who get overly focused on retirement.  They are not thinking about moving into a new line of work or a new cause.  Their idea of retirement is to do absolutely nothing but play.  Probably a nice prescription for an early death (physically and/or mentally).

  • Some people at mid-life find themselves a new "honey."  As a result, a marriage dissolves.  Children are heartbroken.  Friendships are damaged or even destroyed.  Meanwhile, this man or woman believes this is his or her shot at "happiness."  (By the way, as you get attached to another person, your own dissatisfaction with your mate increases, giving you even more rationalization for the mess you are creating.)

  • Some people get focused on being "old."  They talk about being old.  They keep referring to their age.  Instead of living now, they seem to think that life has already happened.

  • Other people just get boring.  These people are no fun to be around.  They stop learning and growing.  Their mental, emotional, and spiritual clocks stop.  The only clock that seems to be ticking is their physical one.

Do you know why I am glad to be my age and alive?  It is because I know life doesn’t have to turn out like the previous descriptions.  A person can be fully alive at any age.  I’ve seen 70-year-olds who are full of life and passion while I’ve seen 40-year-olds who are beginning to shut down.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I don’t have this all figured out.  I’ve never done this before.  I’m just trying to learn.   But I think that’s okay.


God did not create a human being to live for a few years and then settle for mere existence.  I want to remain fully alive all my life.  For me, that is more than just an attitude.  It reflects my appreciation for what God is doing in my life right now and will continue to do in the future.  Like you, I have no idea what that future might look like.  Rather than sit around and wait for my clock to stop ticking, I think I would prefer to stay fully alive. 


Just thinking. 

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20 thoughts on “Just Living or Fully Alive?

  1. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! What a wonderful post. I know someone in his early fifties who speaks nothing about retirement when he can spend the day playing, and all I can think of when he is talking is how sad that he cannot enjoy the present moments of his life and how unfortunate that he sees his major contribution to life as nothing more than his own enjoyment. 

  2. Jim,Thank you.  These are encouraging words. I was thinking on this very topic a couple weeks back and had similar thoughts.  It is amazing how perception and perspective can change one’s whole existence. I remember an elderly Pentecostal preacher saying, “I don’t retire, I re-fire.”  

  3. Allan,Thanks very much!  You sum this problem up well as you describethe life of your friend.I feel very strongly about this.  Too many of us seem to check out long before our death.  I just don’t want to stop living just because of how much time I have logged on this earth. 

  4. Adam,I suspect there are a lot of us who are thinking about these issues.You are so right–perception and perspective make such a difference. 

  5. Jim,   I’m 65 and paying for the neglect of physical health when I was warned by a doctor when I was exactly 53 that I’d better get serious about it.   What you’ve written today hit me right in the heart…both the physical heart and the spiritual heart!   Don’t let up sharing today’s message with all those whom you might influence and don’t let up in the pursuit of it yourself…..You are a daily dose of inspiration to me!   more necessary than my insulin, toprol, lipitor, actoplus, laSix, and handful of vitamins all of which I possibly could have avoided needing had I had you shouting at me 12 years ago.         There is a crying need for what you’ve shared in your thoughts for today!     Your piece on forgiveness this week has given me the inspiration for this Sunday’s sermon.. I’m calling it:                  Forgiveness, The Amish Model
                             Thanks again,   Lanier

  6. Jim: I, too, am 53 but I stopped thinking of it as middle aged since I have no fantasy of living to 106! But there are times I’ve been almost distracted from life for focusing on my age. As you always do, you brought me back to a God focus on the aging stuff as well. As for this being a great time of life … you’re absolutely right! I don’t want to get older any faster than it’s happening, but to go back to a younger time? No way. Been there. Done that.

  7. I do feel very strongly about this issue… and have been thinking it through for a chapter in my book. Mostly, I look at Anna and Simeon in the temple and I think, “Yes, yes! Ministry never ends, if we keep showing up to listen.”

  8. Lanier,Thanks so much for the very encouraging comment.  I am glad there are people like you around.   I appreciate the encouragement that I have received from you now and at other times as well.  You are older and still growing, learning, and yet humble.  You model a spirit at 65 years of age that I and many others want..

  9. Greg,Thanks so much.  I guess I’m at a point in life, Greg, where I am much more focused on living than the age of my physical body.  I am glad to know there are others in this age range who are committed to the same kind of living. 

  10. L. L., Anna and Simeon are very good examples of people who had a significant ministry when they were not exactly young.Would like to hear more about your book sometime. 

  11. “Weren’t exactly young”… you bet!! They give me a vision for the kind of future I’d like to have… and it makes me consider that I need to be cultivating that in the present.

    Book… well, sometimes I muse about the process of writing it, over at Seedlings…but mostly my blog is a place for fun and musing. All my real talk about publishing, including interviews of professional editors and info on my book, is tucked in at llbarkat.com. Of course, I’d love to have you over sometime! 🙂

  12. Jim, Great thoughts here. I am tempted to just throw in the towel, since so much of my time is taken up in doing what I have to, rather than want to do. And getting worn down in that process. But God wants me to make the most out of all I am doing. And see opportunities. And do well with whatever life I have left. And to live life fully to the end. Bearing fruit in older age (Psalm).  A great thought to us. Thanks so much.

  13. Jim,      I’m really aggravated this morning!  My sermon on forgiveness is for me!   I allowed a friend to ‘get under my skin’ yesterday for failing to call me when got he distracted with something else after telling me he would be at my house at 1:00 p.m. to get me to help him with a project.    I changed 2 other appointments….sat waiting for 2 hours, without hearing anything (knowing this cell-phone ‘junkie’ would call if he had a change in plans)…..all the while thinking to myself, "how rude of him to do me this way."    All afternoon I fumed and stewed…..and justifiably so…..he was wrong….don’t you think?   Sure he was!   You just don’t do a friend (or anybody) that way.    I’m planning to really give a piece of my mind….ever so sweetly, of course, but forcefully lest he miss the point.    
            But this morning….your thoughts on the Amish kept coming to mind (as I planned my rebuke)  "Why not forgive him? Jim Martin kept saying in my ear.   "Well, I probably will after I speak my mind"…….and then your picture of those Amish people consoling the family of the man who had murdered their children kept coming into my mind!
         As I wrote yesterday….because of your writing, I was planning to preach on forgiveness, The Amish Model, in the morning. I’ve been thinking of all the folk in our congregation who need that sermon and the Lord has persistently been pushing a mirror in from of my face all morning.   I’m so aggravated!  …..with me!

  14. I should have written "when he got distracted" and not ‘got he distracted’….a strong case for preview what you write, Lanier!

  15. Jim,  Me too!  I want to grow more alive with the passage of time and the accumulation of wrinkles.  And I’m fully convinced that this will be a matter of grace.  God gives life, and heaps it upon us as much as we can stand.   I’ll be 45 in a few weeks.  45, 53, they’re just numbers.  They are little sparks at the beggining of a never ending fire–eternity in God’s new creation!   Ben 

  16. Great post, Jim. I see many people retire from work…and church as well. They have so much new time on their hands and never consider how they could build up the kingdom of God in such bold and exciting ways. One of our elders recently retired and I can tell you we spend a few days a week together doing ministry work … and it has enriched our relationship and given me such strength.

  17. Ben,Well said!  In particular, I like this line:"They are little sparks at the beggining of a never ending fire–eternity in God’s new creation!" I want to remeber that one.

  18. Ted,You remind us all of one of the struggles that many of us face (on a number of different fronts.)  We often find ourselves in a position of having to do some things rather than what we want to do.  I guess this is true of work for some people and for "issues" related to family/health for others.May God give us grace to live. 

  19. Lanier,I relate.  It is interesting how our various irritations and annoyances get to us (Again, I experience the same kinds of frustrations).  Yet, it is helpful to hold up a model like the one you mentioned for some perspective.Thanks,