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Friday, August 29, 2014

Living Well

 Today would have been Ben's birthday...
 He was a young man full of life and passion for the things he loved: God, his family, his church, and his country. From early on in his life, Ben modeled a life of service and unselfishness. Driven by a strong, Christian faith, Ben constantly gave of his time and himself for the benefit of others. Ben made friends wherever he went and seemed to have this amazing ability to impact others, if even for a short time. For a career, Ben chose the military, having attended West Point. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army's Special Forces. As mentioned, Ben was a selfless individual who made a huge mark on the world in a short time.

  I never had the pleasure of meeting Ben. In November 2007, while serving our nation in Iraq, Ben was killed in action. I became friends with his mother, Judy, sometime after his death and soon realized that I had missed getting to know a remarkable person. As time has gone on, and his mom has told me countless stories about her son and what an amazing young man he was, I have come to learn a great lesson. 
  So often, we think that the people who live the longest have the biggest impact because they have had so many years on this earth in which to touch lives and make a difference. But Ben's example has made me believe otherwise. Ben was not given a long life. He died in his early thirties. But Ben made the most of the time he had. Ben lived his one life well. To this day, seven years after his death, soldiers who served with him or knew him in some way, still contact his parents and let them know what an impact he had on their lives and how they were forever changed. Ben saw the bigger picture. Ben realized that his life was not his own, that it was not to be lived for personal pleasure but for God's pleasure. He wanted to honor the Lord he loved so deeply. And he wanted more than anything to experience His blessing and approval when he arrived in Heaven someday. Ben didn't waste any time in pursuing this goal. To him, this mattered above anything else. Ben's life was short, but it was lived to the fullest.  

   As more years are added to my own life, I realize that I should be constantly pressing toward the same thing as Ben: to live my one life well. None of us know how long God will leave us here on this earth. Today could be our last...but I think that most of us want our lives to count for something. We don't want to waste the time we have and instead, use it to touch others and make this world a better place while we are here. In looking back, I can see a lot of idle hours, time that was thrown away because I sought my own pleasure rather than God's. People like Ben inspire me to redeem that past, to begin anew and strive to do more going forward. None of us can go back and regain those lost hours, but we can make the choice to live differently starting today. To make decisions that actually change a life. Ben's favorite Bible verse was Galations 2:20:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live
by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me."

 Ben knew that it was pointless for him to give his life for temporal things. What mattered more was that He lived his life for God, that his faith was evident to those around him, that he gave himself for an eternal destiny. He believed that what he did here counted for Heaven, and he strove toward that end until the day he died.
   Today would have been Ben's birthday...and today is also mine. As I thank God for the years He has blessed me with, I also ask Him to give me more urgency in my life. I want to be found working toward eternal goals rather than my own selfish objectives and desires. I want to be useful for God. 
   I feel very honored to have shared a birthday with such a fine individual like Ben. And as I approach another year of life, I hope that it will bring with it even more opportunities to leave an impact for my Savior on this world that is in such need of hope. I pray that I may be given the grace, like Ben, to live my one life well. *

* To read a piece that Ben's mom wrote for this blog a few months ago, go to the May archives and click on: 
   "Guest Post."