I’ll never forget the moment I realized that most of my (youthful) life was behind me. It was after the death of a good friend who passed at the relatively young age of 58. The minister at his funeral joked that because he was always rushing around ministering to people, it was almost as if he seemed to know his time was short. Of course he didn’t know any such thing, and being in my mid 40’s at the time I realized that I didn’t either.
I looked back at my life. There it was – huge chunks of time, bundled up in decades in what seemed to be of little eternal content for the volume. In my mind I re-opened each one like the gifts they were and found that even though God had given them to me, I had not filled them as I could have. I had an “I’ll become who I need to be someday” mentality. I didn’t see that “someday” is not some nebulous date in the future, it is any day I had life and breath.
Realizing how much time has passed is like the rude awakening you get when you realize you’ve overslept for work. My mind reeled with the same repetitive words: Where did the time go?
True to human nature, I still forget the value of time nowadays. I must still continue to remind myself that life is a gift…that I can’t fill it just for the next amusement or distraction; that I can’t sit back and think that 2013 is twelve long months and plenty of time ahead. In fact, while reading the book of James, I see that the term “oh how time flies” is really not technically accurate. Time in itself never wavers in any way. A minute is still 60 seconds, an hour is still 60 minutes, and we all have the same amount of hours every day.
It is our mortality and our physical lives on earth that is fleeting. James writes:
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit. Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” – James 4: 13 – 14.
(pic by Anthony Wager, Nov. 7, 2012)
We are a vapor, like a fog that dissipates in the morning…like cotton candy that has no substance. A mist that is here today and gone tomorrow.
Ok. So that’s a wake-up call. How do we deal with this?
He goes on to say,
“Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:15-16.
What James is saying here is to live in light of God’s purpose for our lives in order for them to count for something. We can’t be so focused on our own agenda because, after all, how much control does vapor have over where it actually travels? There’s nothing wrong with having a plan, but bear in mind what the Lord’s will is in this life, this day. It could be as small as being kind to a co-worker or seeking opportunities to help someone in need.
Maybe you aren’t (gasp) “middle-aged” like me. Maybe you are as young as a fawn running in the meadow…well, you are still a vapor. So to all the little puffs I
say, no, I beg of you — Please don’t “blow this off”. Do you realize the opportunity you have? Please don’t let your youth be one more life wasted on the young, so they say. You’ll be the exception when you can see past the illusion of immortality. I plead with you to make the most of each day ahead.
For those of us who have been hitting the snooze button, this New Year can be the year to clear our heads and get going. It will take discipline, but it is a holy challenge. Let’s use the days ahead and make up the time. Moses spent 40 years tending sheep in the desert before he lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Likewise, the Apostle Paul wasn’t even converted until well into adulthood. Even the elderly can give back to God the days He has given them by living according to His truth. In Billy Graham’s book, “Nearing Home”, he makes the point that no matter how old we get, we still have a purpose on this earth. We can’t turn the clock back and “re-set”, but we can get up and apply our days to the glory of God until we stand before Him ourselves.
What has God put on your heart for the New Year? I would love to hear about it! If the Lord wills, we will all be around next January. Let’s not wonder where it went!