This week’s tragic scene at Virginia Tech has reminded me that life is fleeting. That’s certainly not a new revelation, but one that I need to be reminded of from time to time. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the flotsam and jetsam of life, to let a barrage of projects and commitments overwhelm me and fool me into thinking that surely I’ll live for decades to come because that’s how long it will take for me to accomplish all my work.
Then something like Monday’s shootings happens. September 11 happens. A family member is stricken with a stroke. A church member’s child is killed in a car accident. And I am reminded once again that life is indeed short, much shorter than I think it is, and that I waste too much time doing things that don’t amount to a hill of beans.
I think that there is a careful balance that we must strike in taking life seriously but not too seriously. There is nothing wrong with making plans for the future–indeed, we’d be foolish to not plan ahead in many instances. But we must remember that although we can make all the plans we want, ultimately the results are not up to us.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
Despite all our planning, despite wearing seatbelts and sunscreen and getting regular check-ups, despite burgeoning bank accounts and prepaid tuition and early retirement plans, we really don’t know if there will be a tomorrow for us. We don’t know when or how God will call us home. But when tragedy strikes, it should serve as a reminder that our lives are in God’s hands.
I believe that tragedies such as this should also spur us on to doing things that we’ve put off doing. Life is too short to put off doing something really imporant that will help my family (like making out my will). It’s too short to let my past dictate my future. It’s too short to let friendships fall to the wayside out of stubbornness or selfishness. It’s too short to fixate on the things that I can’t change. It’s too short to waste opportunities to encourage the people I love. It’s too short to worry about tomorrow.
I find that the more aware I am of how brief life really is, the more valuable it becomes to me, and the more I enjoy life. I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I want to live each day to the full (John 10:10), without regrets, without worrying about mistakes made or opportunities missed. Even if I die at a “young” age, I want people to see that I had a full life in Christ.
Some questions to ask yourself:
-What important thing have I put off doing that I need to take care of?
-What relationship(s) do I need to work toward healing or restoring?
-What is one thing that I can do to celebrate today as a gift from God?