Refuse to Settle for Being Half-Alive

alive_bigI came across this powerful line in Patrick Morley’s newest book Man Alive (p. 13)

You don’t have to settle for being half-alive.

I thought about this for several days.  I think it stayed with me because I’ve seen so many men and women who shut down long before they actually died.

  • The man who sits in his recliner at 40 years of age and complains about being old.
  • The woman who seems to have shut down once her children left home.
  • The man in his 50s who constantly talks about the years in which he played high school football.
  • The minister who sounds bland and bored as he speaks to the congregation.

So what do half-alive people look like?

Half-alive people have a faith that never even comes close to doing anything remotely daring.

Half-alive people talk repeatedly about their experiences or formal education as they attempt to communicate their value while revealing their heightened self-consciousness.

Half-alive people often want a pass from whatever expectations others might have. Such people will sometimes try to excuse themselves from responsibility because they were victims who never got the breaks.

Half-alive people settle for comfort, ease, and no risk.

Half-alive people often perceive the best days of their lives as being behind them. They talk about themselves as being old not realizing that their worst enemy is not their biological age but their self pity.

Half-alive people get into mindless routines. They are bland, feeling or believing nothing very deeply.

Half-alive people can be found in church leadership roles as they perfunctory serve even though their passion for the work and the church’s mission died long ago.

Half alive people often find a way to sabotage the living through their passive-aggressiveness. They douse the flame of any person who might have passion for ministry.

You and I don’t have to settle for being half-alive.

Realizing this is half the battle.

 

Question: 

What do you do to keep from settling for a half-life?

 

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  • darrylrlewis

    I read this blog.
    I try to remember to be as grateful as I know how to be for every good thing.

    • Jim Martin

      Darryl,

      Great to hear from you! Hope you are doing well. Would love to vist with you sometime.

  • John

    Jim, It has been over 25 years since I have preached a sermon. I now work in an office. However, I get up each morning at 3:30 AM and read. Now, in case someone out there is thinking that I am boasting, I think it is obvious that if I said I went fishing no one think that is a boast. A little crazy, maybe, at 3:30 AM, but not a boast.

    My morning reading, which is the Bible and normally 2 books, is my dailey spiritual bread. I would starve, spiritually and intellectually without it.

    My favorite reads, besides the Bible, are Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heshel, writers not normally on the reading list of most current, or even former, Restorationists, I grant you. I have been reading Merton for more than 20 years. And though I had heard of Heshell when I was a teenager, I have only been reading him for about 3 years. My point is, I have to stretch. The poetry and prose that these men can create from scripture that most simply make into laws have taken this 62 year old former southerner on a journey that I wish I had found 40 years ago. Each morning for me is the beginning of a journey from God to God’s children. My mornings keep my alive!

    • Jim Martin

      John,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I admire you for your discipline and for being aware of what it is that feeds you spiritually. I’ve read some Merton and some Heshel and can certainly see why you are fed by them. (I would love to have a conversation about Merton. 20 years! Wow. My reading of Merton is minimal compared to what you have done.)

      Delighted to hear about your commitment to growth and life! Very encouraging.

  • John

    Jim, thanks for responding. I keep all my Merton books in Chronological order simply because of my interest in the progress of his life and faith, and that is how I like to read them, except for those times I am researching particular lines and passages.

    What keeps me in awe of his progress is how it was the love of Christ that moved him beyond love of tradition. He did not think he had to give up traditon, but if Christ called him, regarding any question, beyond those with authority, he moved with Christ.

    My prayer is that people, especially leaders, within the CoC or other conservative denominations would reach past their fears and read him, particularly those books of his later life, such as FAITH & VIOLENCE and CONGECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER. As far as I am concerned, his love for peace, for the poor and minorities, his hatred of war and the death penalty, as described in his books, imitates the life of Jesus more than most Christian writers of the last century.

    I mention this simply because when the social upheavals took place in the 1960s I personally believe the CoC took the wrong fork in the road. It took the path of protecting its own life, especially the life that is fed by the southern culture. There is nothing wrong with culture, mind you, and I miss much of it; but it is not THE culture that best represents Christianity. The life that represents Christianity is the life that dies, that dies to live; and a church must go through death and resurrection the same as an individual. And that is what stands out in Mertons writings…not perfection, not protection, not tradition; but a death that places us before God totally stripped of all that we believe makes us unique. All pretense fades away, while all our successes and blunders, and I mean the good ones of both, live openly and on their knees before God.

    Forgive me for preaching. Thank you

    • Jim Martin

      John, well said! I’m glad you used this comment to makes these very, very important points. I also think you are right about the COC taking the wrong fork in the road during those years (60s).

      So grateful for your good words and presence on this blog, John. I hope you will comment again. You have a voice that needs to be heard.

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