Growing up we constantly used the acronym ‘YOLO’. The letters stand for You Only Live Once, and we usually said it before we did something stupid. My friends and I would take our bikes in and around the town and jump off things, but we made sure to say ‘YOLO’ before we did to attempt to justify our careless abandon for our own safety. Clearly, the phrase can be taken too far, but at the same time, there’s some truth to it. We should be comfortable with embracing risk in life if that enables us to live the way God truly intended. I was struck by a phrase I heard in a podcast over the weekend which goes like this:
“Every person has two lives.
And the second starts when he realises he has just one.”
The phrase had me thinking for hours trying to understand the depth of what was being said. In the end, I understand it to mean that when we appreciate we have only one lifetime, we can begin truly living. We can grasp with some urgency the things that truly matter. We can avoid frittering the hours, days and weeks away on useless pursuits, maybe spend less time on our phones and more time with the people we love. We can stop wasting energy pursuing human approval, and start doing what we were called to do in our service to God.
The phrase is our starting point, but as Christians, it doesn’t end here. We have a glorious life hereafter to consider. This doesn’t detract from the meaning of this life but adds to it. If we have one time around in this fallen world, then everything we do matters in our efforts to make the world a better place through Jesus. However, what’s more, because we have a God who is timeless, our actions are eternal in His eyes – which adds even greater weight – indeed so much weight that we might become paralysed by the pressure. But I see these realisations work out beautifully in the life of Paul. In Acts 21:1-36, Paul is told that if he goes to Jerusalem he will face suffering and imprisonment. But the Holy Spirit is calling him there (Acts 20:22), so what should he do? Paul decides he only lives once before the final resurrection, and so he goes to Jerusalem to face the fate God has called him to. He willingly suffered because that was part of God’s salvation plan for the world. Rather than getting stuck in an effort to preserve his life, he found freedom in giving it over to God. We can learn something from Paul in this hour. We can’t live this life forever, so let’s live for Jesus.