The Measure of One’s Life: “Let us so live that when we die even the undertaker will be sorry”

21 Mar

The Measure of One’s Life book  (double click to save and read offline)

A merchant, some few years ago, failed in business.  He went home in great agitation.  “What is the matter?”  asked his wife.

“I am ruined; I am beggared; I have lost my all,” he exclaimed, pressing his hand upon his forehead.

changing lives

“All” said the wife. “No, I am left.”

“All, papa,” said his eldest boy, “here am I.”

“And I, too,” said his little girl, running up, and putting her arms around his neck.

“I’m not lost, papa,” repeated Eddie.

“And you have your health left,” said his wife.


“And your hands to work with,” said his eldest; “and I can help you.”

“And your two feet, papa, to carry you about, and your two eyes to see with, papa,” said little Eddie.

“And you have God’s promises,” said the grandmother.

“And a good God,” said his wife.

Where would we be without our good God, One who has shown Himself daily for His love and devotion to us? And isn’t it comforting to know that God  “…causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45).

We often find ourselves questioning those things which once were most certain in our life. We move from doubt to despair and eventually discouragement or disappointment.

The company of the discouraged is a very noble company. Not too long ago, the Hayden Planetarium in New York City issued an invitation to all those who were interested in applying to be a part of the crew on the first journey to another planet. Eighteen thousand people applied. They gave the applications to a panel of psychologists, who examined them thoroughly and came to the conclusion that in the vast majority of incidents, those who applied did so because they were discouraged with their lives here and hoped they could find a new life somewhere else.  [1]

We don’t often see the larger picture since we are so close to the d

aily details.

The lone survivor of a shipwreck, marooned on a lonely island, managed to build a hut in which he placed all he had saved from the wreck.  He prayed for rescue and anxiously scanned the horizon every day to signal any passing ship.

One day on returning from a hunt for food he was horror-stricken to find his hut in flames.  All his possessions had gone up in smoke!

The next day a ship arrived.  “We saw your smoke signal yesterday,” the captain explained.

A Christian who was in very difficult circumstances fell on his knees in despair to cry to God, “When am I going to get out of all these trials?” But by a slip of the tongue he actually prayed, “What am I going to get out of all these trials?”  The change of that one word “when” to “what” was just what the Lord wanted and the hard-pressed Christian realized it. There is something more important than escaping from trials — it is learning what our Heavenly Father wants us to gain from them.   [2]

Corrie ten Boom used to say, “When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get you through.”

Minimizing Disappointment

I make the point annually to watch Jimmy Stewart’s popular holiday portrayal of George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life  (required viewing in my estimation for all who work daily to make a difference in people’s lives).

In a scene in the early minutes of the presentation, angels are talking in heaven of this person, George, in their endeavor to know more about him and enter into his world to offer assistance.

Clarence, the 2nd grade level guardian angel who eventually is assigned to task, asks, “What’s the matter with George. Is he sick? Is he in trouble?” “Much worse,” is the reply, “he’s discouraged.”

George gets his wish (“I wish I’d never been born”) and eventually is led through a process of seeing the world as it would have been had he never been born. The conclusion for his circumstances is identical to others – we do make a difference and our positive actions and kind words accumulate much greater than we could ever imagine.

People indeed observe and model what they see and hear from us. It’s humbling but certain that we have an influence in the eternity of another’s soul.

We each occupy a small fraction of space in this world. We do and must make a difference in the lives of others.

Many people have sustained themselves in times of crisis with the little slogan, “This too shall pass.” That definitely puts things in perspective. When we look at all our troubles down here, we recognize it is temporary.

Everyone I know wants both a peaceful and fulfilling life. Nevertheless, most feel that in some way life is not cooperating with their desire. Life keeps setting up barriers. The only way to get peace and fulfillment is to make the right decisions about how we are going to conduct our life. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can determine the principles by which we live.

The fact is, our life is the sum total of our decisions. Some decisions are momentous and some are trivial. Some are easy and some hard. Every day of our life is filled with decisions.

All of us are faced with choices. Written over the fundamental ones are the words whosoever chooses me must give and hazard all he has. Jesus told us that. He said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

We can be fulfilled. Remember, the quality of our life is determined by the quality of our decisions. Fulfillment is ours for the taking. The choice is up to us.

Do decisions ever come hard to you? Are you like the man who had to fill out a job application? One question said, “Do you have trouble making decisions?” The man replied, “Well, yes and no.”

Or perhaps we’re like the wife, who struggled with knowing what to say when asked a relatively simple question. Overheard:  “Has your husband lived up to all the things he said before you were married?”

“No.  He’s only lived up to one of them.” “Which one is that?” “He said he wasn’t good enough for me.” [3]

Life often comes in horrible waves of despair and disappointment. But behind those realities is also the goal of discipline, with the purpose of character and holiness:

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”(Hebrews 12:5-11).

Robert Hamilton understood this eternal concept and expressed it well:

“I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chattered all the way,

And left me none the wiser, For all she had to say.

“I walked a mile with Sorrow, And not a word said she.

But oh, the things I learned from her, When Sorrow walked with me.”

The Devil’s Tool Sale

“It was advertised that the Devil was putting his tools up for sale. On that date the tools were laid out for public inspection. They had prices marked on them, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the Devil’s tools was a harmless-looking tool, worn more than any of the others and priced very high.

“What’s the name of this tool?” asked one of the customers.

“That,” the Devil replied, “is discouragement.”

“Why have you priced it so high?”

“Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.”

Even the most successful, spiritually mature people face disappointment and discouragement. The challenge is to honestly face the problems without fooling yourself or giving up, but rather acknowledge your need for help, get help from others and obey God in the midst of problems.

[1] Bruce Thielemann, “Dealing with Discouragement,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 48.

[2] Pulpit Helps, November 1994, p. 8.

[3] Ron Dentinger, Dodgeville, Wisconsin Chronicle; Reader’s Digest, February, 1995,  p. 59.       

1 Comment

Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Encouragement


One response to “The Measure of One’s Life: “Let us so live that when we die even the undertaker will be sorry”

  1. Roy

    March 24, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Thanks brother. Have it downloaded to read. Looking forward to it. Hi to Terry. ~ Roy Crutcher



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