You cannot see it, smell it, hear it or feel it but its all around us. We live by it. Some have more, some have less. Some do more with it, some do less. Some are passionate about squeezing the very last drop out of it, while for others it is a living death sentence. Its fresh every day but we can use it only once. What is it? Time. When we are young, (and especially in a boring lesson at school) time can seem to drag so slowly. As we grow older, we never seem to have enough. We mark time with birthdays, anniversaries, centuries, millenniums, light years and of course grey hairs – a sign that time is running out. Time is ticking away all the time and we are all growing older because of it. The Bible says
“The length of our days is seventy years– or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10).
The older we get the more this verse seems to makes sense, or at least it does for me. Average life expectancy in some parts of the world is only in the 30’s, while in Western Europe it is in the upper 70’s. This week I read that baby girls born in Britain today could expect an average life expectancy of 100.
If the average life expectancy in the UK is presently 75, that means we have on average 52×75 weeks on earth = 3,900 weeks. Some of us will have less, some will have more. If you are aged 10 you have on average 3,380 weeks left; 20 = 2,860; 30 = 2,340; 40 = 1,820; 50 = 1,300; 60 = 780; 70 = 260; If you are over 75 you have beaten the average!
I was reading James Patterson’s ‘Four Blind Mice’ recently and came across a challenging illustration. It is about a grandfather who tries to get his grandson to value life. He buys his grandson two large jars and fills them with beautiful coloured marbles. He tells him to take one of the marbles out every Saturday as a reminder that he only has so many Saturdays left and that they are equally precious beyond belief. “Think about that… if you have the time,” writes Patterson. Perhaps he got the idea from the psalmist who prayed 3000 years earlier,
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).
We need to ask God to help us “number our days” on this earth because he has a purpose for each one of us. The writer to the Ecclesiastes explains:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to answer the phone and a time to ignore it (I added that)
I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men… I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-12)
There is a right time for everything – for sleeping, for waking, for working and resting. If there is a right time there is also a wrong time. Too much sleep and we get lazy. Too much eating and we get overweight. Too much work and we get stressed. Too much TV and we get all three.
With Easter just a few weeks away, we would do well to reflect upon the promise of Jesus:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full… I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 10:10; 11:25).
Do you believe this? We were indeed created to live forever. Although we don’t know when our life on this earth will end and when the next will begin, we can be passionate in living life to the full knowing it will never end. God has a wonderful plan for your life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
He knows how long you will live. He has set eternity on your heart. He has a plan for your life. He wants to give you a future and a hope. How do we find out what that is? Jesus gives us a good example. He lived a very busy schedule. In great demand, he lived to help other people. Yet Jesus was clear as to his personal priorities. What did he do first thing in the morning?
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
He got alone with God and prayed and read his Bible. He made time for God. That’s the most important thing we can do every day. Jesus always had enough time to do God’s will and so do we. It is all a question of priorities. A life following Jesus will lead to a simpler life-style and a saner schedule. The prophet Isaiah shared his life experience:
“You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).
If we trust in Jesus we can live each day, passionately, as a new day, a new start, living every moment with drive and energy, for God’s glory. You see, life wasn’t intended to be a journey to the grave arriving safely with a well preserved body. With Jesus, it can be a thrilling adventure. I would rather skid into heaven sideways, used up, worn out and shouting, “Wow! what a ride!” How about you?