Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life That Counts

The program title and topic are long lost to my memory, but I clearly remember the "two key questions" the speaker asked:

1. If you knew you would die in a year, how would you invest your available time?
2. Why aren't you investing it that way now?

These are not questions for which most people should be satisfied with the first answers that come to mind. To illustrate why not, my personal "first answers" were: 1) I would try to cram in every book, trip, and activity I ever wanted to experience; 2) I am doing it that way already--and probably shortening my available time with the self-inflicted stress that comes from constantly thinking in terms of "when will I finish this so I can start on the next item?" But behind the cynicism and frustration that haunts so many of us in this area, lies the fact that most people spend their lives neglecting their dreams for more "practical"--and boring--matters.

It's strange how afraid we are of the deeply significant and the breathtakingly beautiful. One can understand why people procrastinate on starting boring or unpleasant tasks; but why do the majority behave the same way when it comes to the things they should want most? "I'd like to use the wedding china for dinner, but I suppose I should wait for a special occasion." "I really feel called to this ministry, but I should wait until I have more in savings." "I could write a great book, but I just don't have the time now." "I really should give my life to God, but there's plenty of time for that."

The "plenty of time" excuse is heard so often that one wonders if most human beings expect their earthly lives to last forever. Some apparently do; there are people who take seriously the idea of scientifically extending life spans to several hundred years, perhaps prolonging life indefinitely. But what would they do with those extra centuries? Anything more significant than the working-at-a-dull-job, just-surviving-day-to-day existence of today's typical American?

The Bible says (e. g. Luke 16:11) that few people are trusted with big things until they have proven themselves able to handle little things. It's safe to assume that those "things" include not only money and abilities, but hours and years as well.

And it's also safe to assume that God doesn't give us our dreams to be wasted.

There are those who dream of an endless youth
That their science may soon create,
Those who wish to live for a thousand years
Or forever evade death's gate.
But it's not a question of when you die
That tells what to your life amounts;
And it's not the time that you have to use,
But the way it is used, that counts.

God allots to each every hour of life,
And He knows just how much you need;
And ten selfless years have more life in them
Than ten decades of idle greed.
So take all your time and then use it well;
Live each day like you had but one
On this earth--but look to eternity,
And pray, "Lord, may Your Kingdom come!"

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