78.87 years. That is the average life expectancy of an American. It sounds like a lot of years, doesn’t it? That’s especially true if you’re 10, 15, or even 30. I have noticed that as I entered my 40’s, time seems to go by so quickly. Remember the opening line of the soap opera – “As sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives”?
Time goes by so quickly. My oldest nephew, Benjamin, turned 17 last month. 17! If I close my eyes, I can see him still as an infant. Like it was yesterday. Where did 17 years go?
In that picture, you see 79 pennies. Each penny represents one year of life. The average life expectancy of an American. The truth is, we don’t know how many years we will actually have. Some of us will have more than 79, and some of us will have less.
Here’s the picture again, but this time, I have taken out 44 pennies to represent the 44 years I have already used. It’s a little scary to look at it this way, isn’t it? If you have 79 pennies handy, I challenge you to do this. Put them out in front of you, and then remove a penny for each year that you’ve been alive. Look at what is left. Remember, what is left is not guaranteed. Some of us might be on our last penny right now. Sobering, isn’t it?
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14, ESV)
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4, ESV)
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, ESV)
This is a challenge. To you. To me. To us. We have been given this one life. What are we doing with it? What are we living for? Each year is precious, each month is precious, each day is PRECIOUS. We don’t have time to waste. This video clip from Francis Chan captures it so well –
What are we living for? Are we spending our time focused on what we can get out of our lives here, or are we living with eternity in mind?
Here’s the challenge. Let’s make every penny count, every year of our lives matter. It’s so easy to lose sight of just how short life really is. What we do with our time matters. There are things that God is calling us to do – let’s do them!
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, ESV)
I want my life to count for eternity. I want to run the race well all the way to the finish line. Like Paul, I can’t say that I have already obtained this or that I am already perfect (far from it!). But I want to strain forward to what lies ahead. I want God to be able to use my life to the full, to be able to accomplish through me ALL the plans He has for me.
As I look at my ever-decreasing pile of pennies, I feel a greater sense of urgency. I don’t have time to waste on temporary things. I don’t have time to be bogged down by things that won’t last. My priorities must be those things that have lasting value, and my perspective must be fixed on what is eternal.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)
Will you join the challenge with me? Will you forget what is already behind and ask God to help you make every one of the rest of your days count for eternity? I know that we will have relapses and that we won’t get this perfectly right all the time, but let’s start with today. What can we do with our day today that will be eternally significant? Then, tomorrow, we can ask ourselves the same question. Life is a precious gift that we have been given – let’s not waste it!
Father, You are our Creator, and You have given us the gift of life. You didn’t give us life so that we could spend it on ourselves, living for what is only temporary. You gifted us with life so that we could live for You and do the things You’ve called us to do. You made our lives for eternal significance. Please forgive us for wasting time and for not prioritizing the eternal. Help us to understand that our days are few, and help us to have a renewed passion for using each day for Your glory. Give us a renewed sense of urgency to be part of the work that You are doing in the world, and please give us the strength to press on to make it our own because Christ Jesus has made us His own. Amen.