17 March 2016

My Best Life Isn't Now

I want to say, first of all, that I realize that this entire post will sound like utter lunacy to readers who don't share my faith. I encourage you to read anyways, as I wrote this with the intent of giving a glimpse into the thought process behind the sometimes odd life choices that Christ followers may make.

The apostle Paul wrote, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, then we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor. 15:19). What he's saying here is that if Christians are wrong in our faith--if Christ was not indeed crucified and raised to life eternal--if there is no eternity waiting for us--then the rest of the world should feel great pity for us Christians because we have staked our entire earthly lives on the hope and faith in an eternal life.

I believe he is entirely correct.

This point in theology is sometimes lost in recent times, particularly with the onset of what's called "prosperity gospel" and the pursuit of a really awesome earthly life, but in the earlier days of the Christian church, one can see this mindset dramatically at play, particularly in the lives of those early martyred Christians who were lit on fire or fed to lions--people who didn't mind having their lives painfully cut short because of the hope of eternity they held so dear. Later on, there was a movement of monks and nuns to take vows of poverty and live simple lives focused on worship of God and service to others--lives that no one would consider fun or awesome or "best" in any sense of the word. This lack of concern for living an especially awesome life during our 70 or so years on this earth  has persisted in different forms throughout Christian history.

My faith is precisely the reason why I live the way I do. My entire lifestyle has been built around the conviction that this life isn't my best life--the conviction that there is  a best life, but one that will only come in God's eternal kingdom, and not today, not on this world. If I am wrong, then then you should feel pity for me, because I have wasted the one short life available to me by not ambitiously pursuing the best at all times.

On a variety of occasions, I've been accused of lack of ambition. That's probably an accurate accusation. I haven't achieved post-graduate degrees, I haven't worked my way into a powerful career, and I haven't reached financial independence. I'm not highly motivated by the drive to better my life.

If I believed that my best life was now, I'd feel much more pressure to "make something" of myself. I wouldn't be okay with my status and wealth and the comfort level at which I live. I'd feel greater despair over all the cool experiences that I miss out on due to lack of time or funds or opportunity. If I was living my best life now, comfort and fun would be of greater importance to me.

Because I believe with all my heart that this isn't my best life, I'm not bothered by any need to seek out a beautiful home with coordinated furniture. If my best and only life were this one, my blemish-prone skin and the fact that I'll never be a movie star would bother me a lot more than they do. I'd be more concerned about the money in the bank and I'd stress about calculating Angel's retirement age and trying to figure out how to fit in the maximum number of adventures into these short lives of ours.

 I'll be honest right now and say that if I believed this life was the best one, I'd be living in America--for me, since I'm an American, that's a more comfortable and more financially privileged life to live.

I love this life I've been given and am grateful for everything about it. I relish life and passionately experience every part of it. But I don't lie to myself and imagine it's my best. I actively choose not to pursue good things when they aren't part of the road I believe I've been asked to walk. I feel no rushed need to do and to have it all, because I believe there's eternity ahead.

Honestly, I see no "best" possible in this world wracked with tragedies. How could I  be happiest pursuing what's best for me in this world of sickness and death and lack and millions upon millions of people who, through no fault of their own, will never see anything remotely resembling "the best"? This world, to put it simply, just isn't the best. But someday, I believe, there will be a world without any more tears, and that's where the best will be.

The fact is--whether you believe that your best life is now or whether you believe that your best life is the one still to come--whichever one you choose, that will highly impact the decisions you make on a daily basis. Because I believe in an eternal future, my life right now is centered around preparing my heart for that future--serving the God who I believe created me and loving the people he made.

This is my "why" for everything I do. I've got my eyes on my best life, but during this life, I'm not interested in best. I'm just interested in doing whatever's worth doing until I die, and then I believe the best will come.


  1. It's hard for me to think much about heaven. I am excited. I do believe I am going there and while I do fear pain, I don't fear death. Heaven just sounds so much larger then me, I won't have a life there. I will be part of something bigger. I will finally wholly belong to God in the way we Christians were meant to belong, I can't fathom it. It scares me with a thrill of desire and also of otherness...

  2. Rachel, this is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing. We might never meet here, but I look forward to meeting you there :)

  3. Beautiful post, Rachel! Wonderful thoughts and you phrased them in in a great way.

  4. I have tears in my eyes. This is it. This is exactly how I feel. Life has been difficult for us lately, and I really needed this reminder. I say all the time that this world is not my home.

  5. An eternal perspective is the best kind of perspective! Excellent post, Rachel!

  6. Boom. This was a great reminder this morning and one I didn't even realize I needed to hear. Thanks, Rachel.

  7. this was a super fascinating topic for me to read about rachel so thanks for sharing (and encouraging the non-religious folks to keep reading). i do not identify as being a part of any religion. to be honest my gut reaction is to think "nothing is guaranteed so i do believe we should be living our best life now and working to make this place a bit better." although i know you would then say "well i do believe my best life is guaranteed and it's not here, chelsea!"

    interesting way to view the world and your current life - thanks for sharing.

  8. To live with an awareness of this mindset like Paul can really shape and change how we think about and choose to spend this passing time on earth...I love that concept, my best life is not right now...because its true! And something I know I constantly need to be reminded about, good thoughts Rachel:)

  9. I love this. True happiness and glory comes when we will be exalted in the afterlife!

  10. Absolutely yes, yes, and YES! I love reading this, Rachel! It's wonderful to know and remember that our best life comes in the next life.

  11. You are so right. I love many, many things about my life but I've never been very, very ambitious or been in a hurry to do EVERYTHING I can- I think it frustrates my husband sometimes but I understand what you are saying.x

  12. Beautiful post, Rachel! Absolutely true, life is eternal one way or another, and we just have to be mindful of how we live each and every day.
    xx, Kusum |

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  14. I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I always marvel at people who put their everything into making this life "the best" and they leave behind the people they love. They don't cultivate relationships with family and friends. They miss out on opportunities to serve others because they are bettering themselves. I recently traveled to California just for fun. And there's nothing wrong with traveling for fun every once in a while. But that was the first time I've ever done anything like that. I am content with where I am. People sometimes think I'm crazy for not wanting to climb the corporate ladder etc but I just know this isn't all there is. When my employer asks me what my career goals are, I'm always tempted to say "Make enough money to get by till I go on to heaven." because it's so true. I don't have any crazy goals in this life. Anyway, sorry I wrote a novel. Basically I just want to say thank you for putting this concept into words so elegantly. I really appreciated the read!

  15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    I have the same beliefs as you, and this post reflects how I want to live my life!
    I admit though, that I often get caught up in this life and improving it etc etc - of making this life my focus.
    Thanks for the reminder that this isn't all there is!