We don’t possess our own lives. We are stewards of the life that God has given us, and for however long God continues to give us breath. Our life is not about hoarding or conserving life for its own sake, but its opposite: about willingly giving up our life and our life’s energies, following the example we see in Christ’s own self-emptying.
I invite you to ponder this idea of stewarding our lives. Personally, I thought of how modern American culture is so focused on ownership: on acquiring, having, and even hoarding; on “keeping up with the Joneses”—or perhaps the Kardashians these days. The focus is on things and what those possessions say about us.
The focus can also be on acquiring relationships and information: who and what we know. People share on social media about meeting some celebrity on the airplane or attending the latest grand concert or special conference. We consume social and journalistic media to be “in the know” about all that is going on, from the latest scandals to the newest health trends.
Yet our lives are ultimately not about what we accumulate or possess. For each of us, our greatest treasure is our own self and what we do with it. This year especially, when my father died after only three short weeks of illness, I have found myself thinking about how to make the most of the time I have, not knowing when it might draw to a close.
Curtis Almquist’s quote also brought to mind a house that Henry and I once lived in and intended to purchase in Albuquerque. (It didn’t work out, but that’s another story.) As I cared for that extensively remodeled older home and expanded its garden, I realized that I was functioning as a caretaker. I was one in a long line of people who had lived in and cared for that house, and there would be others who followed. When I pruned the old apple trees and rose bushes, I was continuing the work of those who came before me. When I planted a peach tree and dozens of daffodil bulbs, I was providing physical and spiritual food for future generations of occupants.
Stewardship is also how I think about my ministry of spiritual guidance. I am stewarding my life by listening to God on behalf of others. I’m stewarding their lives as well as they seek to authentically live out their callings and various ministries. In this way, I’m also “willingly giving up” my life’s energy, following the example of Christ.
So, how are you stewarding your life? What came to mind as you read Almquist’s quote?