We call it The Best Life Possible. Why? Because we believe, in fact, it says in the bible all through there, that if you follow God’s commandments, if you follow His law, if you meditate on His law, you’ll be blessed. You’ll have the best life possible. That’s why God gave them to you, not to steal joy away, not to make your life miserable, He gave you the Ten Commandments so you’ll have the best life possible. I know you all want the best life possible, don’t you? If you’re all honest with me, you do. I do. Why not? We want this life of ours to count and that’s my message title today, “Making Your Life Count.” Don’t we all want our life to count when all is said and done? Absolutely we do.
Well my husband and I, we had four sons, born within seven years time and they were full of mischief. In fact, one of their favorite things to do as a family is to sit around and they love to tell stories about what they did, and much of the time I’m going blah, blah, blah, blah I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to hear. And I’m just glad that I’m hearing later now that I saw that they lived through it. There were a lot of things they did that I saw that I wondered how they lived through it. But in all the mischief my sons got into is really part of our life family story.
So when I heard this story again this week, I thought you know I really can relate to this mom. This mom and dad, they had two sons, they were eight and ten. They lived in a small little town and any time something happened, any mischief in the town, they kind of knew these two brothers were behind it. And so the mother was so glad because they got a new pastor in their church, and he was known for having wonderful discipline policies and procedures and the mom thought oh maybe he can help me get my sons under control.
So she went to him and she said, “Pastor, will you talk to my sons, will you help them?” And he says, “Yes, send the youngest one to me first; I won’t talk to them together, but individually.”
So the youngest went first. He showed up at the pastors’ office all by himself. Sat across the desk from this pastor. Kind of cocky because these boys, they kind of had the run of the town. They didn’t expect the pastor to do this. The pastor leaned across the desk and he said real sternly to the young man, he said, “Where’s God?” His mouth fell open, his eyes got wide, he was speechless. Because he said nothing, the pastor decided to be more stern. He raised his voice a little bit and he said, “Where’s God!”
And the little boy by now was shaking in his boots and he couldn’t say a word. He was frozen in fear. And the pastor again pressed forward, and he shook his finger in that little boys face and he boomed, “Where’s God!” And the little boy screamed and ran out of the pastor’s office, ran home, went into a closet, slammed the door and sat in there shaking like a leaf.
His big brother came to him and said, “What happened? What’s going on?” And the little brother said, “Dude, we’re in big trouble now. God’s missing and they think we had something to do with it.” God’s never missing, we know where God is. God is always here, God never leaves us or forsakes us, and you can’t steal God.
And this one is on “thou shalt not steal.” And when we look at the Ten Commandments, we look at them as its not good enough to just refrain from committing adultery, just to refrain from murdering, to refrain from stealing and all the other things that it says in the Ten Commandments, because Jesus said that’s not enough. Jesus said when it comes to the Ten Commandments, these are the things you should be doing. You should love, says Jesus, “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. And you should love your neighbor as yourself.” If you do that, you are fulfilling the Ten Commandments. It’s that simple. Love, love, love fulfills the law. Love is all that we’re asked to do, to love God and love our neighbor as our self, just to love.
And so today’s message is “Make Your Life Count” by giving your life away. The opposite of stealing is giving, and giving not just anything, but giving your life and giving love, giving it away. And if you do that, your life will count. You were born for a very specific purpose. You were designed, divinely designed. You weren’t designed by just some architect, maybe an AIA gold medal winning architect, you weren’t dreamed of just by some dreamer, you were designed and dreamed and desired by God Himself. He wanted you, the very way you are. You’re not just a random happenchance of a mixture of genes. God picked every attribute that He innately put within you and gifted you with. If you don’t believe me, that’s what it says in the word of God over and over again.
Psalm 139 says, “For You Lord created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from You. When I was woven together, Your eyes saw my unformed body and all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” I’m going to repeat that last phrase one more time, because it’s an important phrase of the scripture. All the days, all my days, every single day of my Sheila Schuller Coleman calendar, every single day of your calendar, every single day has been ordained and written in the book, in God’s book up in heaven before one of them came to be, meaning God has already written your biography. It’s already been published. If you live the life God has ordained for you, you will have the best life possible. If you live the life that God has ordained for you, your life will count.
And Romans 8:29 it says, “For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” meaning God has not just a destiny for you, it’s a destiny He wrote years and years.. it’s been written in the annuls of time. God has already predestined, has a destiny for you that He has written and planned for you. You are that important to Him. And what is it that you are predestined to do? It says to be conformed to the image of His son, to be as much like Jesus as possible. To give the love of Christ to as many people as possible in your own unique way, your own unique calling. Nobody else can do it for you. Many of you have said oh I don’t want to have to do it; God can use somebody else to do that. He doesn’t need me. Haven’t any of you thought that? Want to pass the buck to somebody else? Oh you don’t feel qualified, you don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel educated enough. Why me. I don’t have to do it. If I don’t do it, I can just sit back here and live the way I want to live. I don’t have to fulfill this calling, it’s too scary. And if I don’t do it, it’s okay because God’s got all these other people in the world and they’ll do it for me. Well that’s not true. God has made you specifically, uniquely for your unique calling and if you don’t do it, lives will be lost. If you were a physician in the ER, and someone came to you and they were dying, what happens: you take a step back and go oh there are enough physicians here in the world. Somebody will come and.. heavens no. You jump in there and you rescue them.
The thing is you are uniquely qualified. God has you and only you. He’s created you perfectly for His purpose for you. It says in Ephesians 1 that long before we first heard of Christ, He had His eye on us. He had designs on us for glorious living. Part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone. It says right here in Ephesians. He has a purpose for you. Ephesians 1, verse 11 and 12, God has a purpose that He is working out in everyone, and through everything.
And some of you are saying, but I don’t even know who I am. Why should I even bother to get up in the morning? I have an identity crisis, for heaven sakes. Who am I? What can I possibly give and offer to somebody else when I don’t even know who I am. If you want to know who you are, it says right there in Ephesians 1:11, it’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we were living for. Any of you get up in the morning and say why did I get up today? Any of you go to bed at the end of the day and say why did I live today? What did I accomplish? Have I done anything? Why am I here? Am I just going through the motions? Am I just getting up, going through the day, going to bed. Getting up, going through the day, going to bed. Or is your life counting?
I love the story of Amy Carmichael. Last half of the 19th century this woman lived. And when she was a little girl, she was born in Ireland, and she had brown eyes. And her mom had beautiful, beautiful blue eyes. And Amy wanted to have blue eyes like her mom and her mom had told her that if she prayed for things, God could do anything. She had learned that as a little girl. So she prayed, the night before she went to bed one night, she said, ‘Lord, give me blue eyes like mom.’ So she got up, ran to the mirror the next morning when she woke, she looked in the mirror, oh no, her eyes were brown. God hadn’t answered her prayer. She didn’t have blue eyes like she prayed for.
Well she was not to give up that easily, so she prayed again for several nights. ‘Lord, give me blue eyes like mom.’ She got up the next morning, looked in the mirror, brown eyes. Brown eyes. Not what she wanted. She wanted blue eyes like her mother.
Years later, she found herself in India as a missionary. She was stunned and horrified to find that young girls were being forced into prostitution there for the temple priests in India. And Amy had that call, she had that burden, her heart was broken for those girls. And she said I’ve got to rescue them. And she thought how can I do that? Here I am with my fair Irish skin, they’ll see me as a foreigner; I have no way of any access to these girls to rescue them. And then she said you know what? I can stain my skin brown and put on a sari and maybe I’ll be able to pass. And so she did and she was able to get past the guards; she was able to gain access to the temple as a foreigner. She would not have been able to if she hadn’t disguised herself.
As a result, Amy rescued thousands of girls from forced prostitution, human slavery. Thousands of girls were saved because of brown eyed Amy. If Amy had had blue eyes, if God had made her with blue eyes, she couldn’t have passed herself off as an Indian. No she could not have. They didn’t have contacts back then. It was her brown eyes. When God knit her in her mother’s womb, He said you know this little girl, this little girl that I’m forming and knitting in her mother’s womb, I want her to save and rescue thousands of girls from prostitution when she’s an adult and she’s going to need brown eyes in order to do that. And so God gave her brown eyes for that reason. Everything, everything you are uniquely qualified. God needs you to make your life count for Him.
Everything? You say to me Sheila, everything? Even the pain? Even the heartache? What about the fact that I lost so much of my life to substance abuse. What about the fact that I’ve had to endure a painful divorce, that my husband walked out on me and left me alone. Everything? What about the pain that my son.. I lost my son to suicide. Whatever it is, that heartache and that pain, oh my yes, God can use that. As dad said, God can turn your scars into stars. Whatever that hurt is, whatever that pain is, whatever has broken your life and your heart, that’s what makes you uniquely qualified to help and rescue others. To walk with them and talk with them and they will listen to you, they won’t listen to me. I haven’t walked that path. I haven’t walked that journey. Every part of your life has a purpose because you have a purpose and because God is sovereign and God needs and wants you to make an eternal difference for Him.
We have one quick little closing poem I want to read to you. It was written by Charles Thomas Studd who was a foreign missionary to China, and India, and Africa. He said this: “Someone to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” This was Charles Thomas Studd.
“Two little lines I heard one day, traveling along life’s busy way, bringing conviction to my heart and from my mind would not depart. Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last. Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life this still small voice, gently pleads for a better choice. Bidding my selfish aims to leave and to God’s holy will to cleave. Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last. Only one life, a few brief years, each with its burdens, hopes and fears. Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will.” Say it with me. “Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last. When this bright world would tempt me sore, when Satan would a victory score, when self would seek to have its way, then help me, Lord, with joy to say,” and say it with me, “only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last. Give me Father a purpose deep, in joy or sorrow Thy word to keep. Faithful and true whatever the strife, pleasing Thee in my daily life.” Say it with me. “Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Only one life, yes. Only one.
“Now, let me say, Thy will be done. And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say it was worth it all.” Say it with me. “Only one life twill soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Yes. You can make your life count. You can discover your divine purpose in Jesus Christ, your one life, your one life which you will never have again. Make it count through the help of Jesus Christ.