“Did you get what you wanted from this life? What did you want?” The American poet and short-story author Raymond Carver asked these questions in his poem, Late Fragment. It was his last poem in his last published work, and he wrote it when he was dying of cancer. It’s a very simple poem, yet deep and far-reaching.
And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did. And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.
“Did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? And what did you want?” It’s good to take stock and reflect, to think and consider who you are, where you are, when you are, in the scheme of things. Your own impending death has a way of slapping you in the face. No one knows when their last day is; Liberty University football player Tajh Boyd, a 19-year-old freshman offensive lineman, died recently. Did he get what he wanted from his life? Consider your life carefully today, while you have time. There is beauty in clarity and a well-lived, successful life. Don’t waste your life.
But did you get what you wanted? I guess it depends on what you wanted. The Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want…” Do you know what you want? Raymond did. “To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” Isn’t that what we all want, deep down inside? No matter where you’re from, what color, what size, what age, how rich or how poor, isn’t that what sits in the bottom of your gut and keeps you up at night: to know that someone loves you? Someone is celebrating your successes and being patient with your failures. Someone’s in your corner as you box, someone’s standing on the sidelines as you run. Someone puts your picture on their wall or desk because they love you. “To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” Is that you? Are you loved? Do you know it?
I don’t know if Raymond Carter knew the Lord, but I know the Bible speaks to his wants and needs to be loved. John writes in his gospel, chapter 3:16, “God so loved the world.” That includes you. God loves you. You are loved by God. God judges you worthy and you matter to Him. But it’s not a “warm fuzzy” feeling of love, it is a love that takes action, love with grit and bite, a bloody love: He loved the world and “gave His one and only Son.” Love comes at a cost, a price, a substitutionary death, His Son Jesus on the cross in your place, for your sin. “He who knew no sin became sin for you, that you might be counted righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).” And love comes with expectation, your response: “that whoever believes in him” – do you believe He died in your place? You can know you are loved and share in His promise, “that they should not perish but have eternal life.”
The greatness of God’s love for you in Christ is deep and wide. It reaches fools, idolaters, and rebels. He paid for your sins and transgressions against Him. And you are guaranteed a future of joy. There is no greater love. I don’t know if Raymond knew that, but you can, today. Believe in the God who loves you.