What I've been thinking about lately, and with a healthier sense of anxiety, is this. What constitutes a life that pleases God? The closer I get to the end of my life, it seems the only question that matters. Is the life I am living pleasing to God?Not: Did I perform well? Did I do enough good? Did I do it right? But did I love well? This is the question that will mark me forever.
The question will keep you up nights. And it should. As we pull the covers to our chin and settle into our pillows, that's the question that should bring our day into the presence of God for His scrutiny.
Did the life I lived today please you, God?
How many things do we have to check off on our to-do list before we can say yes to a question like that? How many questions do we have to count before we can be done with them all and drop off to sleep?
Have I loved well?
When asked the secret of living the Christian life, Augustine replied: "Love God, and do as you please." The thought of that is both liberating and confining. Liberating because it means we are free to do whatever we want. Confining because it means our love for God sets the boundaries of that freedom. It guides every thought, every action, every conversation. And it does so every minute of the day, every day of our life. Instead of a Byzantine complexity of laws to regulate the details of our life, we have only one. The love of God. When that is the heart of who we are, it changes what we do. And it changes something else. How we will be judged.
St. John of the Cross once said that "at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving." As we look back over our day, what we have done is not as important as how we have done it. Better to do little with much love than much with little love. For without love, whatever we do will be dismissed with a judicial wave of heaven's hand as just so many trivial pursuits (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
So it's the end of the day, and each of us is lying in our bed, reflecting. Have I loved well? Has love been the beating heart pulsing through all my activities? Can it be heard in all my conversations? Seen in my eyes? Felt when other people are in my presence? Was the truth I spoke today spoken in love? Were the decisions I made today based in love? Were my reactions? My devotions?
Have I loved well?
If we can answer yes to that question, it is enough. It may not be enough for our employer. It may not be enough for our fellow workers. It may not be enough for all the carpools and committees and other things on our calendar.
It may not even be enough for us.
But it is enough for God.
My inspiration for this blog's name can be traced to a passage in a book by Ken Gire. In The Reflective Life, Ken writes masterfully and reflectively about how we evaluate our days. How do we know that we are focusing on the right things? How do we define and measure success?