25 July, 2007

Making It Count

Our family just returned from vacation on Saturday, and I have been sick with severe sinus problems, sore throat, headache, stopped up ear, low fever and no energy since Sunday. Well, actually it started on the trip home, but who's counting? No one that I know ever enjoys being sick, but this has just been driving me nuts. After having been gone for 9 days, there is so much work to be done, people to see, phone calls to be made, paper work to be completed, plans to be made... not to mention study time... and I just don't feel up to it. I've done what I can, but believe me, I'm getting further and further behind in my "to do" list. It is SO frustrating.

I was sitting out on the porch very early this morning just enjoying the sunrise and listening to the birds sing, while I was praying; and in my prayer time, I was telling God how frustrated I am at the moment. I told the Lord how I have so much to do and that I did not have time for this. Mind you, that I was actually trying to convince God why he needed to heal me because "my church needed me." In reality, I was saying that He needed me.
In that moment, God spoke to me in that still small voice and reminded me that he had been doing this thing a whole lot longer than I have been a part of it. Suddenly, my life kind of swung into perspective, and I realized that I was trying to make myself a whole lot more important than I am.

All this got me to thinking about my life, and life in general and the time we have on this spinning orb we call Earth and time in general. I thought about my immediate family. If my father was still alive he would be 93 years old this year. I thought about how, if he were alive, he would view the changes in the world during his life time. I don't know for sure how he would feel, but in my mind, I imagined a conversation with him, and he shared with me the things that seemed so important to him at the age of 25 seemed so trivial and unimportant now. Life as he knew it then, no longer even existed. I drifted away in my thoughts, and I began to try to imagine what life would be like in another 50 years, assuming I am still alive. It's hard to do. In the 30 years since I graduated high school, this world has changed so much that there is no way I could have imagined it in 1977. But it's fun to dream and try to imagine what it would be like 50 years from now. While impossible to speculate with certainty in any direction, it helps lend this perspective to everything: much of what seems important and urgent right now is really nothing in the overall scheme of things.

The cold, stark reality of things is this: We are allotted so many days... 70, 80 years, or if we are really lucky, a century, at most, to make of our lives what we will.
Think about it; 80 brief years in the face of eternity.

We are just a blip on the screen of time.

I know, some of you are thinking, "Dude, you are getting morbid today, but really, I am not trying to be morbid or to bring anyone down, but this thought is a stark one.
The recognition of life’s brevity can restore your sense of what really matters.

Think about this with me... If everything is temporary: your loves, your friendships, your family, your work, humanity itself; how should that influence the way you conduct your life?

The answer is that we must try to live well.
Scarcity creates value.
Life is a precious thing.
Therefore, life must be valued and appreciated.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 90:12: "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

"Teach us to number our days."
I like to think that what the psalmist meant was that we needed to realize what a precious gift each day is and not to waste a one of them.
We need to make the most of each and every day.
We only get one shot at this thing called life.
What you do today, this week, right now...
this is who you are and what you will be remembered for!

40 years from now, when someone thinks of you... will they remember all the "busy-work" you did, or will you have left an impression on your family and friends that stands out?
What will that impression be?

Let me leave you with this thought.
I had an uncle named Arthur. I am sure Arthur had some good qualities about him... I just don't remember them.
The only things I remember about my uncle Arthur is that he was a drunkard who got very mean and ugly when he was drunk.
I recall my mother holding me in her arms refusing to let me go to him as he called me to come over to him during one of his drunken stupors.
That was in 1964.
Forty-four years have passed, and still one of the few memories I have of my uncle Arthur is that my mother did not trust her brother with her son.

How are you living your life? How will you be remembered?

That passage in Psalm 90:12 from The Message translation says this:
"Oh teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!"

I want to live well.

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