In a book I am reading, the author asks a very pointed question. “What did you do with your life?” I realize this question may be a bit premature, but it is something to think about. Based on the current trajectory of my life, how will I answer this question as I get older?
I believe those people whose lives make a difference are those who use their time wisely. I heard a man once say, “Your time is your life and if you waste your time you will waste your life.”
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:16 “make the most of your time because the days are evil.” Paul is telling us to get the full value of your time, squeeze all the good you can out of every moment of your life.
When he says we should do this “because the days are evil,” he is saying we don’t live in a morally or ethically neutral environment. As Christians we need to understand our value system is always going to be challenged by the world. If we are not on our guard, the culture will draw us into a lifestyle where our time is frivolously consumed rather than invested in what is important.
The idea for this blog came from some old notes I found on this subject. I would like to say these are my original ideas. They are not but I heartily subscribe to them.
First, we need to know there is a cumulative value to investing small amounts of time in important activities over a long period of time. For instance, the value of exercise is not found in any one particular day. Exercise has a compounding effect. It is the consistent, incremental investment of time that makes a difference in our well-being.
This is true in almost every area of your life, whether it is spending time with your wife, your children, developing a skill or your intellect. But this is particularly true in our relationship with God and in our spiritual life. I can personally vouch for the difference it will make if you will seriously seek God each day. You will experience the cumulative effect as the years go by. I might add that neglect has a cumulative effect as well.
This second thought is a real challenge for us all. In the critical areas of life, you cannot make up for lost time.
I remember back in college, certain students would goof off during the semester and then cram at exam time, trying to catch up. For most, I am sure the results were not stellar.
However, when it comes to the crucial areas of life, particularly the world of relationships, you can’t pull all-nighters and cram. I have seen this in the lives of men who have neglected their wives over a long period of time. One day, the wife stuns him by filing for divorce. They promise their wives they will radically change, but often it is too late.
The important areas of your life require regular deposits of time and attention and if you miss those opportunities they are lost forever.
Several years ago, Bob and Judy Fisher, a husband and- wife team living in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote an interesting book on the subject of long-term thinking. Their book, entitled Life is a Gift, focuses on, among other things, a life of regret. The Fishers interviewed 104 terminally ill patients, all of them under hospice care. In each case there was a recurring theme:
So many people realized too late that there was a significant gap between the things they ought to be doing in their lives, and the things they actually did.
Now contrast this with the life of author C. S. Lewis. If you have ever read about Lewis’ personal life, you have discovered that he led a very well ordered and disciplined life. He maintained great relationships and truly lived an exceptional life. Lewis passed away at age sixty-five, yet a week before he died, he said to his brother Warren: “I have done all that I was sent into the world to do, I am ready to go.”
What a stark contrast with the hospice patients the Fishers interviewed, who so painfully revealed the regrets in their lives.
I think we all would like to be able to say what C.S. Lewis said at the end of his life. I believe we are all capable of doing that depending on what we are doing with our time right now.