This week two important events happened: our youngest daughter Leah had her 16th birthday and our close friend Mike Fools, 50 years old, passed away from Stage 4 liver cancer. As I looked across the table at Leah blowing out her candles on her birthday cake, I wondered how the time had gone so fast. I felt it was interesting and significant that these two events happened the same week, and it spoke to my heart two things: one, life is very brief, and two, we need to celebrate life each day with God’s love and joy while we are alive, intentionally living a purpose-filled life, fulfilling our destiny in Christ and making a difference in the lives of others.
This week I am reading Dr. Randy Carlson’s book, The Power of One Thing: How To Intentionally Change Your Life. He says that God is the timekeeper of our lives. He is the one who starts the timer and then, usually many years later, He stops it. (p. 94) We need to always be ready for the day it stops this side of heaven.
Dr. Carlson makes it a practice on the first day of each year to go back through his calendar from the year that just ended and ask himself, “Was I intentional with the use of my time?”
How are you using your time each day? Are you making the most of it or are you wasting it? Are you living for God or for yourself? (p. 95) If today were your last day on earth, would you feel that you had achieved your life purpose and that you had done what God called you to do and to be – or would you have great regrets for the way you lived your life?
Dr. Carlson says The American Time Use Survey collected information about what people spend their time on each day, and here is what it found for Americans ages 15 or older. They spent:
- 8.6 hours sleeping
- 5. 1 hours doing leisure and/or sport activities
- 3.7 hours working (an average of all days of the week)
- 4.7 hours participating in a variety of activities including eating, drinking, going to school, and shopping
What is missing, Dr. Carlson writes, is time spent on life’s essentials like relationships, time with God, and personal growth. We don’t spend most of our time pursuing activities that help us achieve our goals and dreams. Dr. Carlson writes that we do our household chores, pay our bills, eat, and then flop in bed without reading our Bibles or spending much time talking with our spouses or our children. (p. 94-96)
Dr. Carlson writes that we procrastinate, stay busy doing the wrong things, think too much about changing other people, worry about the past or the future, have regrets, oversleep and get nothing done, search for lost items, get bogged down in physical or emotional clutter, get stuck in indecision, check email, spend hours on Facebook or Twitter. But we do spend time wisely, doing what really matters? (pp. 96-99)
Do we spend time each day with God, growing closer to Him?
A tombstone has two dates on it – the birth date and the date of death, with a dash in between those dates. How are we filling the “dash” of our lives?
Dr. Carlson writes that successful people keep the main thing the main thing: “When we know that Christ is our main thing, and that our purpose in life is to honor Him, we can focus on that main thing. We all have different talents and abilities, but our purpose is always to know, love, and honor God. For many mothers with kids at home, parenting is the one thing in their current season of life. Yet I often talk to moms who have decided to stay home with their children, only to fill their time with a thousand other things that distract them from the very thing they wanted to do – be there to raise those kids. Whatever is your main thing right now needs to be your primary focus.” (p. 101)
When asked how he writes so many books, Chuck Swindoll said that he gets up an hour earlier than everybody else to do nothing but write. “Think of it: one hour each day times six days each week times fifty-two weeks each year is 312 hours each year. You, too, could write a book in 312 hours – or accomplish something else that is important to you.” (p. 99)
Are you accomplishing what is important to you? Are you making an impact on others with God’s love? How are you investing your time each day? Life is so short, just a vapor, as I realized this week when our baby girl Leah turned 16, and realized when our friend Mike suddenly passed away this week, when he was just 50 years old. It seems just yesterday that our daughter Leah was a little, newborn baby girl in that pink gown in the hospital, and that Mike was a healthy, 5th-degree black belt, Tae Kwon Do instructor teaching our class at the recreation center, talking to our family about God, his beautiful wife Wanda who was his best friend, and making another joke that we laughed at. What amazed me so much was how many people were at Mike’s funeral. The church sanctuary was full, and there was even an overflow room for more people to attend the service. He was a great man of God who dearly loved his family and others, a great warrior for Christ, someone who made a real difference here and an eternal impact on the lives of others.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV)