DYING EMPTY Andy Hollifield 12-11-12
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Matthew 16:24-26 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (26) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (14) For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
I have to admit that I am writing something today that wasn’t an original thought. Don’t be fooled by the title; it is not discouraging at all but rather uplifting. I was watching a special on the NFL network about Aeneas Williams, former all pro cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals and then with the St. Louis Rams. Mr Williams was not only one of the three best corners of all time in the league, but was also just as dynamic about sharing his faith and living it in front of everyone he came in contact with. I am not writing this article about him but about something he said. It was something to this effect: “When I die, I want to die empty.” He went on to define that as meaning having completely lived up to your potential. That is a good goal in life when it comes to living for the Lord.
As I began to think more about that statement I realized just exactly what those words meant. I have often thought about my dad, who passed away at 63, and from what I seen I would say that he died empty. I have also wondered if he had lived longer, how much more could he have accomplished? But then I thought about the apostle Paul and the words he said to Timothy shortly before his death. In 2 Timothy 4:7 he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” He went on to talk about the crown he was looking forward to that the Lord was going to give him. I began to think about finishing my course. When my time comes to die, I would like to have lived my life in a way that the testimony about me from others could be that I had given all of myself to the work of the Lord. No higher compliment could ever be given to someone than for those that knew him or her to say that about them. The word “potential” is an adjective meaning possible, as opposed to actual. Another meaning is; capable of being or becoming.
As I began to study this a little more, I realized that a lot of the patriarchs of the bible would have earned that testimony from others that they had died empty. One that is kind of unlikely that you would think of was Naomi. I know there is David and Abraham and Joseph among others but Naomi is probably a good representation of most of us. In Ruth 1:20 and 21, Naomi told her friends in Bethlehem not to call her Naomi but to call her Mara because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her and she had went out full but had come back empty. Naomi was a woman who hadn’t even strived to live pleasing to God. No doubt she was a good woman but her and her husband had left Bethlehem when times got lean there and went to Moab where things were better. Let me say that anytime you leave Bethlehem-Judah (house of bread) and go down to Moab (God’s washpot Psalms 60:8) you are definitely going down. Struggling in the Lord’s will is always better than flourishing out of his will. I will say this about Naomi; I believe that she did her best to live Godly especially after she got back home. The reason I would say that she “died empty” having reached her potential, is because she was responsible for getting Ruth married to Boaz. The reason that is important is because if you trace the ancestry she is the great great grandmother of David which also makes her a few generations later a great-grandmother of Jesus. I would say that she couldn’t accomplish much more than just being where the Lord put her and doing what he said to do. That’s a pretty impressive ancestry.
Abraham may have wound up a rich man and the patriarch of Israel but there were a lot of times that the Lord had to work around Abraham’s will to accomplish his will in Abraham’s life. Taking Lot with him when God told him to leave home and also the affair with Hagar are major mistakes in his life that he didn’t pray about before doing them. Looking back at my life, I can find a lot of those instances. Even with his sin and shortcomings, Abraham was still called in James 2:23 “the friend of God.”
David is another one that even though he was anointed king at a young age, he still followed his own lusts and brought heartache to his own life. In spite of all of his sins, he did accomplish the purposes God had for him. He not only united Israel and Judah, but also provided a lot of the funding and material for Solomon to build the temple of the Lord. In Acts 13:22 it is said of David by the Lord: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” My prayer is that the Lord could say that about me but I have already fallen far short of that goal.
Joseph was another one that, if you read the story of his life, you would have to conclude that he died empty, having lived up to his potential. God may have used Abraham to be the father of his chosen people, and later used David to be their uniting king and let him be in the lineage of Christ, but in between them he used Joseph, through the events in his life, to preserve his people through famine and spur the birth of the nation of Israel.
All of these folks were just like you and I: human. They all had their faults and failures and even things that we would consider atrocious, but just like us, God used them greatly and they all died empty having submitted their lives to accomplishing the will of God. If God can use a rash, impulsive old man to be the father of his chosen people and if he can use a young girl that was considered a dog and put her in the lineage of his son, and a young man hated by his brothers and sold into slavery and then became a convict; he can use me and you. God don’t pick and choose what sin he forgives, he forgives them all. It is good to know that in spite of our past and even using the events of our past; God can use us for his glory and accomplish great things with us if we only present our bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto him. After all; that isn’t something extraordinary, it is just our reasonable service. Don’t waste your potential; live up to it and die empty. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!