It’s Not About the Numbers
Current weight. Weight lost. Weight gained. Calories burned. Calories consumed. Miles ran. Miles biked. MPH. All numbers that could easily steal my life’s focus. Add into the mix comparison to the numbers of others, and I’m stuck in not being skinny enough or fast enough or in any way good enough.
The number that messes with my focus worse than any of these is my age. This number derails me the easiest because I can do nothing to change it. My age will increase regardless of what I do or don’t do.
I struggle with aging. Within that struggle though, I am determined to age gracefully. I want my years this side of heaven to be meaningful and effective. This requires a right focus, one that pleases God, one where numbers don’t consume me.
Unfortunately, my focus too easily gets caught by the advertisements and books and news articles toting the keys to longevity. What the world says about living a long, good life catches my attention pretty much every time it enters my awareness.
What does the world say about living a long, good life? Here are two examples representing the world’s view well:
- Martha Stewart says to eat well, maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, get quality sleep, wear sunscreen, collaborate with a good primary care doctor regularly, find your passion, connect with others, stop complaining, and stay curious.
- The Huffington Post says to avoid seven things to age gracefully: Wearing too much makeup, eating too much salt, negativity, watching too much TV, too much sun, stress, and overindulging.
Most similar sources say basically the same things, and they’re not wrong. The problem I have with this advice is that it never seems like enough. When I focus on what my culture and science says to live a long, good life, I never find lasting peace. The only satisfaction I’ve ever found, the kind that left me truly feeling peaceful with my life’s focus, is that shaped by my creator’s intentions.
They key difference between what the world says and what the Bible says about living a long, good life is that Scripture points to a life not defined by the number of years but instead by satisfaction with days lived. The only times I’ve been satisfied with my days lived are when God is satisfied with them.
God’s satisfaction with my days comes through living out his word, which tells me that a long, good life comes when I:
- Control my tongue. (Psalm 34:12-14, 1 Peter 3:10)
- Avoid evil. (Psalm 34:12-14)
- Do good. (Psalm 34:12-14)
- Pursue peace. (Pursuing Peace study)
The difference between the world’s view and God’s view of living a long, good life involves focus. When I focus on what the world says, my focus goes toward myself. When I home in on what God says, my focus aims directly at pleasing Him. My focus determines my reality.
While the physical aspects of our lives do have some value and measuring them at times can be helpful toward our productivity, priority goes toward godliness, toward living to please God, which has value not just now but into eternity (1 Timothy 4:8).