Life on Loan

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. — Native American Proverb

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it… — Psalm 24:1

“You’re not in charge!” Most human beings I know chafe under such an imperative statement. Sure we’re in charge, each one of us, right? Do you remember the Bon Jovi song “It’s my Life” and its siren song to individuality: “It’s my life/It’s now or never/I ain’t gonna live forever/I just wanna live while I’m alive…”? This song has inspired people of all ages and become an anthem to the idea of controlling one’s own life and destiny.

It’s true that we don’t live forever on this earth, and it’s laudable to desire to really live instead of go through the motion, but it is not true that this life is ours to do with as we please. Our life is a loan. We didn’t dictate our birth , and we’re really not completely in charge of our terminus post quem. And what we do while we’re here–every choice and decision–matters and affects the course of our journey.

Our choices and life paths also affect others, an important point to ponder. How we treat our bodies affects how long we may potentially live, how much we will have to invest in health care, and what our quality of life will be. How we treat our economic resources affects our security, the futures of those we love, and even the future of our community and our nation. How we treat our earth may potentially affect everyone. We are, in effect, “borrowing” the earth and all its resources from future generations.

Yes, we live on borrowed time with lives that are merely a loan. Each breath, each day, everything is pure gift, but the gift is shared. Our gift of life is lived out in community for good or for ill. How will you enjoy your gift, steward your loan, and care for what is not yours forever?

Thanks-Living Action:

1. Ask yourself what kind of world you would like to see for your children or your children’s children. If you do not have children of your own, what kind of world would you like to leave as your legacy?

2. How can you be a better steward of your time, talent, and resources?

3. What does it mean to live life as gift?

Finally, ponder these words from a sermon delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church:

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Photo by Damanhur, Federation of Communities. Thanks!

5 responses to “Life on Loan

  1. I really enjoy reading your posts, they are becoming a part of my morning ritual. Thank you for providing me with food for thought!

  2. Your blogs continue to inspire! I hope it will be ok with you if I share this, as Chaplain of our Call Committee, with the group as part of the devotion – It’s very appropriate for a meditation on how our decisions will “forever” affect the life of Zion. Just let me know if sharing this is not ok with you. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Connie. Yes, feel please feel free to use this for your call committee devotions. I am delighted to share. All of my writing for this blog is available for non-profit re-use under Creative Commons License (i.e.–tell where you got it and share with me where you use it, and don’t sell it). Blessings on your committee’s deliberations. May the Spirit grant you wisdom, discernment, and the right candidate.

  3. Reniva R. Riessinger

    I try to live each day as though it were my last one. We are to treat others as we would want to be treated. Everything we have belongs to God, just on loan to us. So, it behoves us to treat the earth and the fullness thereof as we feel pleases the Creator!

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