I got to borrow back a life from a girl I knew not too long ago. She was carefree and fun, and it was awesome to fill her shoes for a while. It was a time marked by wind blowing in my hair while driving down the road, snuggling with my nieces and nephews all wrapped up like a pretzel on the couch, laughing til tears filled my eyes, and a thousand other treasured moments.
I didn’t initially think that it would be worth the short time available and significant cost to come back home during my time in Cameroon, but I did have some vacation time that I was able to use, and the stress was wearing me down. After considering all the options, I realized that there wasn’t anywhere else I’d rather go, and no people I’d rather see, than my family and friends at home. So, graciously, a family member helped me get some super secret airfare to take that long flight over 3 continents and one mighty big lake to return to Travelers Rest, SC.
I got almost uncontrollably patriotic when I felt the wheels of the airplane land on American soil. My heart beat fast and I had to hold back from breaking out in the national anthem. The other folks on the plane all seemed to not even notice that something awesome just happened, like it wasn’t a big deal. But, oh, it was a big deal – “the land of the free and the home of the brave!”, and incidentally the place on earth that my heart loves most.
Well, then the fun actually started at the beach, where I surprised my family on their vacation. I came swimming in from the ocean to meet up with my sister’s four kids (who I lived with for four years prior to leaving for Africa). I told them that I swam in the whole way from Africa to meet them at the beach for their vacation. There were other additions to the story, including the aid of dolphins and sea turtles, but I’ll spare you the details. And don’t worry, the only one who believed me was the youngest, and I came clean from that lie within a couple days. It was a blast. Then we came back toward home, where I got to continue loving on and being loved by those around me. It was a return to what was once pretty normal. But now I appreciated normal in exceedingly greater capacity.
But it was somewhat of a borrowed life. It felt like the time was extra and surreal, as if I had been given extra days to live beyond the scope of the life that I considered “mine”. As well, literally, most everything in it was borrowed. My mom let me borrow clothes, a car, a room, and many people invited me in to share a meal and/or a little piece of their life.
It reminded me of the fact that we are all really living lives that are borrowed, they are given by another, and after a while, to be taken back by Him. Some are easy, some more difficult. Some parts of them are given directly (like where we were born or our natural giftedness) and others, we work to grab ahold of. But no matter how much we put into them, we can’t really keep them.
I used to see a physical image of this concept when I went to the gym (which I really miss nowadays). I don’t mean to put down exercise all together, of course, it’s just to give you a picture. I always would see people who were pouring their entire energy into their physical body, with apparent disregard for any other worthy thing. Day after day, they were as religious with the pursuit of physical fitness and beauty as a pastor to his Bible, a greedy man to his money, or a lover to his object of affection. Now, no doubt, they were amazingly fit individuals, fine specimens of human physique. But they were consumed by a love that was eventually going to let them down. It was going to age, and wrinkle, and droop, and break, and scar. I always wished that I could remind them that this body was more along the lines of a rental property. They were treating it as if it were being permanently bought and owned instead. It’s good to keep a rental up - make it stylish and comfortable, improve it, and put some of yourself into it. But it would be only a fool who would pour his whole life savings into it. The day will come when he will leave that rental property empty handed, and then all he has labored for will have been lost. So too with those sculpted frames which will one day be frail and fragile, and some later time than that, will return to dust after death has encompassed them. Only the invisible, often ignored portions of humanity will matter then. Each will have given back the temporary loan.
So, let me encourage you to live this borrowed life well. God has given, to most who will read this, exceedingly graciously in every area. I have been reminded of that once again as I have walked through the days that we would call ordinary. It is beyond my understanding as to why He has lavished such physical provision and blessing on us in the USA. But this part we do know, we aren’t to waste any part of our lives. We are to live the ordinary days with extraordinary views of how to image Christ into the world as we walk through it. We love, seeking to display the same kind of love that He has shown to us. We give, seeking to reflect His generosity towards us. We rejoice, for we have been made to be His by the broken body and spilled blood of His Son. Let’s not live a forgetful and wasted life. For it is borrowed, only borrowed for a short time. Make it count.