Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

I read this quote yesterday and it’s struck a chord with me. I’ve heard similar quotes before, but this came on the heels of listening to a lecture on YouTube. This lecture, combined with a book I just finished and a documentary I watched a few months ago, have been rolling around my head and heart. All three were on different subjects. All three were trying to define an observed problem involving believers. All three left me feeling sad.

These are the things that I noticed about all three.

  • They all set out to define a problem.
  • They all painted a problem with a wide brush.
  • They came up with no actual solutions to the stated problems.
  • They all ended with a lack of hope.

As I was pondering what I was feeling, I came across the above Mary Oliver quote. What do I want to do with this, “one wild and precious life?”

1 – I want to listen well. I believe that listening and agreeing are two different things. I’m called to listen. If I don’t listen, how will I ever be able to respond in the Spirit? “If one gives an answer before he hears it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13.

2 – I want the Holy Spirit to highlight problems that I can help solve. Sometime in my humanity I make mountains out of molehills, so I want to always check my heart and mind before digging in. “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.

3 – I want to stand up for what is right. God is a God of justice. I don’t want to stand by and keep silent. I want to reflect this facet of His character. “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause,” Isaiah 1:17.

4 – I want to be careful to not condemn all because of the words or actions of a few. I want to make sure that my vision and perspective are not too narrow. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11.

5 – I want to solve problems. By nature I am a problem solver and that’s often the role I play at work; identifying problems or potential problems and finding solutions. If I can’t find a solution, there’s usually someone who can help. “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15.

6 – I always want to speak the truth in love. Just as Corinthians says, if you don’t have love you are just a clanging symbol. When I feel prompted to speak, I want my words to be soaked in the love of God. “Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Ephesians 4:15.

7 – I never want to live without hope nor do I want to leave others without hope. God is a God of hope! Nothing is hopeless if God is in the mix! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13.

I want the presence of the Holy Spirit to be tangible in my life. That is the only way that I know to walk these things out. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2. So that’s my answer to my original question above. But what about you?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver – Poem 133: The Summer Day