Jude 1:12-13 These are… shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
I am no poet but if I was, I would want to be able to write as Jude does here in beautifully tragic metaphor. I may be taking some liberty with the context, but when I read this passage, it speaks to me of a squandered life.
I know exactly what Jude meant by waterless clouds and fruitless trees. I have lived out the reality of his metaphors. I have been the waterless clouds, being useless to God and those around me, living only for self. I look back at the fruitless years of my life and I can intimately identify with the wandering, shepherds who lived only to feed themselves. Even if I live to be 80, I am now past half my time on this earth. What have I lived for, if not me?
I do not want to live like that any longer, toiling away for self, wasting the short years of my life. I want to be able to look back at the end and see a life that was about something other than me. Living for self has lead to shame and tragedy. God now has miraculously turned that tragedy around, and so it is mine now to share that with others.
I sometimes think that I must do something grand to make a difference. I think I must leave my job and go to some far off land to live the purposeful life. Then I see those in need around me and realize that I do not need to go anywhere. Everyday I meet the addicted, hurting, and suffering who are living out the tragedy right here. Everyday, I have the opportunity to bear fruit, bring rain and help those in need. I do not need to change my geography; I need to change my behavior. I need to use the love God has given me to love those He has placed in my life. God has saved me from myself and I need to be willing to share that truth and love to those in need.
I have been given so much and I have wasted so much that I now want to use what I have for what God wants. I am occasionally asked where I find the time to write everyday. When asked, I want to point to the 40 wandering years behind me. My urgency is born out of those idle years. If I want my life to be about something, I have to be purposeful about that something. I have this beautiful spirit life that God has given me the freedom to pursue, but if I am not purposeful about it, I will by default, pursue my flesh life to destruction and tragedy again.
A tragedy, no matter how beautiful or poetic is still a tragedy. God, however, turned my disaster into triumph. That is the beauty and wonder of his work in me. That is the message for which I want my life to be consumed. He can turn any tragedy into triumph.