"I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1988 edition of Reader's Digest , which tells about a couple who 'took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.' At first when I read it I thought it was a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life- your one and only, precious, God-given life- and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: 'Look, Lord, see my shells.' That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don't buy it. Don't waste your life!" - John Piper, in his book Don't Waste Your Life
Most people slip by in life without passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, trying to avoid sin. Don't get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. I challenge you to live and die boasting in the Cross of Christ alone and making the glory of God your singular passion. Not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives.
"To live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:22) We're dying to self, comfort, security, and reputation. Heath, family, friends, homeland, and wealth may be taken from us at any time on the road of Christ-exalting obedience. We're embracing a life of loss for Christ's sake and counting it as gain. Treasuring Jesus above the gift of life (honoring Him in death) and treasuring Him above life's gifts (honoring Him in life).
It is a tragic waste of a life when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering. All the riches of the glory of God in Christ are on that road, all the treasures of assurance, all ecstacies of joy, all clearest sightings of eternity, all noble comaraderie, all humblest affections, all deepest discoveries of God's Word, all most earnest prayers are found on this road alone.
Some die in service to Christ. This is not a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is tragedy. Know what really matters and be willing to live (and die) for these core beliefs. His beauty shines most brightly when it is treasured above health, wealth, and life itself.
Roughly adapted from my book notes on Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper