Grab an oar – and live life to the fullest

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Many years ago, a scholar was traveling on his way to give an important lecture at university when the rain began to fall in torrents. 

When it stopped, the river quickly rose above the bridge the scholar needed to travel, and he was unable to cross.

He hired a carpenter who owned a rowboat to take him to the other side. 

As the carpenter prepared the boat, the scholar asked, “Living this far from civilization, do you have access to a quality newspaper?” 

“I seldom read a newspaper at all,” replied the carpenter, “What news I get comes from the radio and TV.” 

“My dear man,” the scholar replied, “anyone who doesn’t read a daily newspaper is missing out on life.”

As they boarded the boat, the scholar asked another question.

“Well, you must have a library nearby where you can check out good books, don’t you?” 

The carpenter took the oars into his massive hands and began to row, “I haven’t read a book in years,” he replied.

“My dear man,” the scholar retorted, “anyone who does not read is missing out on life.” 

There was a long pause in the conversation as they crossed the raging water until the scholar had another question.

“What about plays or symphonies, dramas or good music? Are you able to attend or enjoy any of these?”

“As I’ve been trying to tell you,” the carpenter said with some irritation, “I wouldn’t mind going to plays and symphonies, but they are terribly expensive, and my carpentry business keeps me busy as I try to meet the needs of others... and to be honest, even though you might not agree, I do feel very much alive.”

Just then the boat hit a stump and capsized, sending both men into the raging water. The carpenter shouted to the scholar.

“Sir, can you swim?”

 “No!” came the fear-filled shout of the scholar. 

“Well, then…” the carpenter said as he grabbed an oar and pushed it in front of the scholar, “Here, have my creation and learn how to truly live.” 

And with that, the carpenter pulled the scholar back to safety. (taken from “Stories for The Gathering” by William White).

Sometimes I wonder if we truly know how to live. We get up, go to work, give time to our families, make it to church activities or volunteer, and if we are lucky take a nice vacation every now and then. 

But do we truly live our lives to the fullest, or are we going through the motions?

I regularly talk or counsel individuals who feel their lives are going nowhere or feel trapped with no way out.  

Life for them has become a

routine of waiting for that golden opportunity that is out of reach – or waiting until retirement to really start living.  

The truth is, we all must live to the fullest each and every day. As a Christian, I believe life is a precious gift, and that we should live our best life now. 

It does not matter if you are rich, poor, blue-collar or the smartest person on earth. We all need to live the best that we can and find happiness in what we have and who we are.

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