“We are not infinite
We are not permanent
Nothing is immediate
And we pretend like we’re immortal.”
“Gone” – Switchfoot
I should be sleeping, but instead… I need to talk about something.
We think we’re immortal.
We think we’re invincible.
We think nothing can get us… until it does.
We think “I’m young, I’ll be fine.” or “I’ll deal with it later.”
There are things in this life bigger than us. Bigger than our narrow little pocket of what we see. There are things that we can’t even begin to grasp. They’re too hard, so we shut them out.
There are words that start with C that steal like thieves. Cancer. It’ll sneak up on you. It’ll walk into your classroom and take a 10 year old boy who was a shining star, who could have governed this country if he wanted to. One day in your class, 20 minutes before the bell, he won’t feel well, he’ll ask to go home. You’ll tell him there’s only 20 minutes left and you’ll ask if he can stick it out. He’ll say yes, because he’s a trooper like that…. and you’ll never see him again. Five months later the leukemia will have taken him… or rather, the infection will, because his immune system is so weak that he gets an infection and they can’t do the bone marrow transplant until he’s fought it, but he can’t fight it, and he loses. He’s 10.
And then a couple years later, it’ll take the man you wanted to be the one to govern this country, unexpectedly, in a relapse when everyone thought he’d beaten it. RIP Jack Layton.
It’ll get your grandparents, your parents, your friends, co-workers… it’ll get people you’ve never met. It might get you. We can beat some of it, but not all, and it’s still hard. We’re not invincible.
There are acronyms that’ll sneak up on you, too. MS. ALS. CP. AIDS. HIV. We run for the cure. We walk. We fight. We raise money. We raise awareness. But we can’t win. Not in this life.
I don’t mean to sound morbid, but yet… I do.
I lectured one of my classes this morning in a voice that terrified a few of them. I didn’t yell. I wanted to… boy, did I want to. No. I pulled out one of those calm yet completely livid voices that even freaked me out a bit, but I didn’t let them know that. I pointed out to them that they are SO privileged. They have so much. They can walk to school in under half an hour. They have running water. When they get to school with no lunch, we feed them. When they lose their pencils, we give them another… they don’t pay for school. I don’t know if it sank in. I hope it did. I hope that I made a class full of 10-12 year olds see how incredibly valuable what they have is.
But it isn’t permanent.
One of them asked me the other day, “why do I need school? I hate school. I hate work.” My answer? “You need school to be successful when you’re a grown-up.” How empty and hollow does that sound?
Who defines success?
Or rather, who SHOULD define success?
If I have millions, and have climbed up to the top of as many ladders as possible, what good does it do me when I die? Because that’s not an if. I will die. I just don’t know when. I might be 90, I might be 30. Only God knows.
And if only God knows when I’ll die, shouldn’t I live like it might be tomorrow? Or tonight? Or like I might not even finish this post?
Am I ready?
I’m not afraid to die. I suspect Heaven is a pretty rocking place, and I suspect I will not miss Earth.
But am I ready?
And I don’t mean “do I have a will?” I mean… am I ready….
If I were to fall asleep after I hit Publish tonight, and never wake up……. would the life I lived be one I’d be proud of? Or am I putting off things I know have greater value than what I’m doing for when I’m a “grown-up.” Or for “later.”
I’ve already established that I’m older than I think I am, I’m no longer a young-adult… When will the next turn-around realization be? Will I be 30? 40? 60? When will I stop and go “whoa… when did that happen?”
If it’s 30, will I be pleased with what I accomplished in the next 2 years and 3 months?
If it’s 60, will I be pleased with what I accomplished in the next 32 years and 3 months? That’s a long time. It’s longer than I’ve currently been alive… but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. And if the last nearly 28 years have been any indication, I’m sure if I’m privileged enough to make it that long, it’ll come faster than I’m ready for.
Will I have lived a life that my God will look at and say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”? Or will I hang my head in shame, filled with regret, wondering how I let so much time slip through my fingers without a second thought?
Time is a non-renewable resource, but we don’t treat it like one. We just ‘kill’ time. We waste it. We spend it. How could we? It’s so precious! We have so little! Why aren’t we maximizing every opportunity? While we’re playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends, we could be doing something meaningful!
They say time is money. Time is not money. That can’t possibly be true. Money you can earn back. If you earn one hundred thousand dollars, and you invest it, you’ll have more than you started with (if you invest wisely). If you earn one hundred thousand dollars and spend it all but then go back to work, you still have money. Every second that passes, though… those will never come back. You can’t win the lottery and win 10 years. It doesn’t work like that. If you sit around waiting, moments pass you by.
Time needs to be invested, too. But where will it be invested? Do the places we invest our time have value? Will they give any return? If I invest my time in Angry Birds, have I accomplished anything of value? (merely an example, I can’t even figure the game out, I don’t like it.)
But if I invest my time in the lives of others, with a purpose, and with God’s love (or at least my feeble attempt at it)… I won’t have wasted time.
I don’t know what this looks like for me, yet. But I assure you it’s on my heart. I want to make the most of all my moments.
What does it look like for you?
How’s that for some heavy before-bed reading?