How Would You Spend Your Time If You Had One Week to Live?
One of the most valuable possessions we have is time. Whether rich or poor, male or female, old or young, we all have the same amount of time every day. So in some ways time is the great equalizer. The question is what are we doing with our time?
The Bible puts time in its proper perspective. Listen to James 4:13-16, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit. How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.”
Our life is like the morning fog! For people who live in foggy climates, we know how quickly fog can spread overnight and then by mid morning it is gone. James is focusing us to understand that there is nothing wrong with planning, but know that ultimately everything is up to God. Our planning is only as good as we put it into the Lord’s hands. Since we don’t know how long we will live on planet earth, we need to live as though every day is our last day, and not assume that we have all this time.
I am currently 67 years old. At times it feels like last week that I was a teenager in high school. It feels like two days ago that my wedding to Maria took place. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was middle age, working as a pastor, with our kids at home. Now I am considered a senior citizen (only enjoy that term when I get discounts) and have grown grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. How can that be when just yesterday I had brown hair, playing sports, and even looked good in a bathing suit? As we all say, “where did the time go?”
For years I taught a time management class when I was a management trainer for a utility company and then later taught extensively on this subject in the church. My emphasis was always on spending your energy doing the most important things in life rather than the trivial. Of course the most important revolved around accomplishment. You know what that is like: completing school, finding your God given career, spending time with your family. All of this is important and doing the best and not just the good is critical.
What about the absolute essential need for enjoyment of what God has created; things such as looking at the beauty of nature or listening to soothing music? Yes, right priorities should include fulfilling work and being present for those you love. In the mix though needs to be time for healthy, dare I say godly, relaxation. I am not talking about wasting time. Wasting time is when I am doing nothing but am truly bored and antsy because the relaxation is anything but. No, I am talking about healthy, refreshing relaxation, which rejuvenates and brings life.
Recently I heard one of the most powerful sermons ever by T.D. Jakes. It was called Come Before Winter and was preached at Elevation Church in honor of the church’s 13th anniversary and Steven Furtick’s 40th birthday. (Furtick is the lead pastor). This is the YouTube link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=it4cDLBcn5E.
Jakes talks about how fast time passes us by and his line, “If I were you, I wouldn’t wait too long”, becomes the refrain throughout the message. He says if you are going to do something, do it now; don’t wait. It is a very sobering message and I highly encourage everyone to listen.
So here is an interesting question someone posed to me years ago. If today is the start of your last week on earth, what would you do? If you said something like I would do what I always have been doing, then you seemingly have understood the value of spending your time wisely. If, however, you said that you needed to change things immediately like asking someone to forgive you; visiting people you have wanted to see but didn’t “have time”; or travel to a spot you had always planned to go to, but never did. If that is what you are saying then in reality you are truly wasting time.
I had the following interesting thought presented to me that shows what living to the fullest or making the most of your time looks like: Jesus did everything he wanted to in three plus years, but was never in a hurry. This of course was referring to his public ministry. In fact in the last verse at the end of the book of John, the writer speaking of Jesus says, “And I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books.”
This says Jesus accomplished a lot, but when you read the Scriptures you see Jesus just hanging out with his Heavenly Father, you see him at a wedding, you see him loving on children. No everything he did wasn’t just “work”. It was life; real life.
Isn’t this what we long for, having the time of our life? This is not just a cliché; it is something that should always define our very existence. Timely, isn’t it?