A Lasting Impression

Waves, like fluid erasers, remove our imprints from the sand, dissolving them into the sea, and dismissing we ever stepped upon its granular shore. 

53532476_362438387694967_8287644696239407104_nWe just returned from a vacation in the Bahamas. One of my favourite parts of a mid-winter vacation to a warm location is taking walks along the beach. I soak in the sound of the waves unfolding onto the shore, absorb the sun’s warmth on my shoulders, enjoy the feel of the sand between my toes, and glimpse back at our footprints in the sand.

I found myself comparing the impressions we leave in the sand—so quickly swallowed by sea—to the impressions we will leave behind in the places we travel in this life. What kind of mark will we leave on this earth, particularly on other’s lives? Will it be quickly dissolved, or will our actions and words leave a lasting impression? If lasting, will they be impressions of bold beauty or petrified ugliness?

With a limited number of steps, we travel here and there making many deliberate choices that form a lifetime. As sojourners, will we leave people better than we found them, or will we be as litter strewn on the shores of their lives? How will we use what we’ve been given to make a lasting difference? Will we impress upon the lives of others beauty, truth, dignity, and love, or will we scatter indents of useless or destructive debris.

With God’s help and guidance, we can walk across neighbouring shores in humility, with gentleness, kindness, and patience, while offering mercy, comfort, and generous quantities of compassion. In this way, we leave imprints of peace, joy and love, by any means that we’ve been given, upon other’s lives.

We set aside our own wounding and bitterness—from others thoughtless impressions—and receive the healing waters that dissolve those unsightly marks. The watery waves of God’s love soften our sandy shores and prepare them to collect prints of beauty once again. And afterwards, we bravely step out to do the same for others.

Our lives are lived on purpose and with a purpose. No act of kindness or gentle encouragement, however small, is wasted. With each step, we can press beauty into all we touch and leave this place, and others, positively altered. Make no mistake, you will leave an impact. Choose well the nature of its composition.

It’s my hope that you and I would be ever-aware of the brevity of our lives, and spend each day wisely and purposely, creating beauty wherever we tread.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12

How Much Life Are You Giving Away?

Body-Awareness

How much of your life are you willing to give away?

That’s a big question, but we do it daily – unthinkingly. Henry Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” We exchange our thoughts, our energy, and our finances for various activities, stuff, or other people – often with little thought. Only those with limited time know how limited time is. We’re given only one life and twenty-four hours each day. The question is, how much of it are you willing to give away, and for what purpose or person?

Thought Exchange

How is your thought life? We have the choice to use our thinking on anxious, negative, self-depreciating thoughts, or peaceful, life-giving, mind-renewing thoughts. We have the choice to be jealous, envious, and wish our life were different, or be content, thankful, and celebrate with others in their success. We can tear others down, or build them up. We can be fearful and angry, or choose peace and trust. The trouble is, we’re prone to let our mind wander and go its own way instead of paying attention to our thoughts. The Bible suggests this exchange:

…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Taking thoughts captive demonstrates that our thinking can be controlled. In captivity, we examine those thoughts and sort out if they are lies or truth. We throw out the lies and grapple with the truth. We can intentionally exchange fearful thoughts for faith-filled ones, destructive thoughts for edifying ones, and can choose peace and joy in any circumstance. Like clean eating, our thought life grows healthier by what we ingest, and this clean thinking has a positive effect on every area of our lives.

Energy Exchange

We can spend a lot of time doing things we aren’t necessarily meant to be doing, things we might not be naturally gifted at, things that distract and detract from our passion and purpose, things that take time away from our loved ones, and leave us feeling exhausted and empty.

We might be wearing ourselves out being a people-pleaser, running from this activity to the next hoping to hear human hand-clapping while missing the still, small voice of God. His wisdom guides us to use our hours wisely, giving purpose, direction, and enough strength for each day. He says,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matt 11:28

Our greatest joy is found where our passion and God’s purpose collide.

Financial Exchange

Like our other resources, we can use our finances purposely and intentionally, or squander it unwisely. The way we expend our finances clearly displays our heart. The Bible says that,

…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Note that it doesn’t say money itself is evil, but instead the love of money. We can exhaust much time attempting to gain more money. That money can be used to build a great many things and buy a great deal of stuff, but with thoughtful intention it can be used to invest in eternity.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matt 6:19-21 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~ Proverbs 4:23

Every day, we are offered an opportunity to spend some of our thoughts, energy, or finances to help and comfort others. If we’re too busy, too self-absorbed, too tired, or too greedy, we might overlook the needs around us, and even fail to prioritize our own needs. Taking time to care for others, especially those whom God has entrusted to us, speaks to the posture of our heart. Since God is love, and the source of our ability to love, He should be the person we spend a significant portion of time with. When we do, it becomes easier to discern the appropriate amount of life to exchange for everything else. With Him we can live on purpose with purpose.

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  1. What things in your life are worth expending your thoughts, energy, and finances on? Make a list of what you most value. Does your list and how you are using your life line up?
  2. Take a look around you? What do you see? What does it say about your heart?
  3. Do you think you need to make some changes? If so, make a plan and start taking some small steps.