I remember a few years ago I saw some friends at the doctor's office who I had not seen in a long time. They were just a few years older than me, but when I saw them, I had to do a double take. They looked much older than they did before. I knew who they were, but I was shocked to see the toll that a few more years of life had taken on them. As we talked and caught up on what had been going on in each other's lives in recent years, one of them made the comment: "When you get our age, you only get to see your friends either at the doctor's office or the funeral home."
I tell you what: They were about right! Lisa and I both turn 60 this year. There is something about saying that we are 60 or looking at it on paper, that just does not seem possible. My daddy died when he was only 66. I thought he was an old man, but now I see that he was just beginning his slowing down years from a lifetime of hard work and trying to provide for six young-uns.
Since I returned home from working in Iraq last September, it has just been one medical issue on top of another. About the time one thing quits hurting, something else either quits working or begins to hurt. It is hard to accept the reality that my body is wearing out and that I just cannot do some of the things I used to do. I remember the days when whatever needed to be done, picked up or moved, I could do it.
Jack, Darrell and I started last year trying to start each morning off together with a pot of coffee in the office. A couple of days each week, I will cook a good breakfast and we will eat and visit as the morning breaks. Occasionally, other friends will join us just for the fellowship. We often find ourselves reminiscing about the past and the things we and others used to do. We also try to plan what we need to do that day and in the days and weeks to come. We talk as if we are all young enough to make long range plans like we used to.
As we reminisce, we find ourselves spending a lot more time than we used to trying to remember names of the people and places we are talking about: " What was Jerry's brother's name? You know, the one that married, oh, I think her name was Sheila somebody whose mama worked at the, what was the name of that little store where all the older men used to meet, not on 636, but on that other road....,ahhh..., I can't remember the name, but you know where I'm talking about. Well, I read in the paper that he died Monday."
Just the fact that we want to start our days drinking coffee at the office together instead of watching the new day break in the pasture with the cows, after already having done some of the chores, is a sign that we are getting older. But, when we listen to ourselves talk and stumble around trying to remember names, we realize that things have definitely changed! The people that we used to refer to as old, is now us!
At some point, if we live long enough, things are going to change that limit our abilities to do what we have always done, whether it be work or play. There is a general wearing out process that takes place where our bodies and our minds begin to slow down and become less productive, efficient and effective than they once were.
With this said, knowing that with every morning that we are blessed to spend another day of life on this earth, we are getting closer and closer to end of this life; how should we live and what should be our focus and our purpose?
As I get older, I hear more and more of my friends and family talking about their upcoming retirement and all of the free time that they will have just to golf, hunt, fish, travel or just leisurely spend time with their grandchildren. We all need and look forward to having more time to enjoy these kinds of things in life, but I pray that we do not let these things be the purpose of our lives in these last days.
I know I find myself praying more and more to God that I not waste my life. I do not want to waste my life by just living it without eternal purpose and spiritual fruit. I pray that I do not waste my life just trying to keep a ministry alive. I certainly pray that I do not waste my life trying to keep a cowherd going, even though 100% of the proceeds go to support our mission work. I pray that I do not spend the rest of my life accumulating material things that are only temporary and that I will soon leave behind for someone else to fight over. I sincerely pray that the Lord will use my last days (for more have certainly passed than remain), to glorify Him and to grow HIs Kingdom as we tell others about His abundant love. I pray that I faithfully spend my last days showing others the way of hope, forgiveness, salvation and eternal life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
I hope that I still have days to fish, hunt, travel and to spend time with my wife, children, grandchildren and friends. However, I pray that even during these times, my purpose and my heart's desire in doing so will be to praise and glorify the Father and to point others to Jesus. I sincerely pray that on the day God calls me home, and one day He will, that He finds me faithfully and sincerely serving Him in the center of His will for my life.
If the doctor told me today that I had just a few days to live, I do not know just how I would take that news, but I pray that I would be able to live those last days without any fear and without any unfinished business between me and the Lord, between me and my family, or between me and you. I know that as a born again child of God, as imperfect, guilty and undeserving as I am, the day this old body dies will be the day I really begin to live life to the fullest, without any resemblance of the affects or condemnation of sin, all because of what Jesus has done for me. He has done the same for you!
Lord Jesus, help us to know and to hear your voice. Help us each to live the rest of our life, however long or short it may be, in the center of your will. Give us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to stand upon the truths of your Word, and to make those truths known to the nation and to the world. Help us to get up each day, to put on our spiritual armor, and to show up and take our place to face the spiritual battles that rage for the minds, hearts and souls of our family, our community, our nation, the world and Your Church. Help us Lord Jesus, when we have done all that we can do to stand, to stand firm in our faith that we have eternal life and eternal victory purchased for us through the life, death and resurrection of your Son Jesus. Help us Lord, not to waste our lives, but to Glorify you in all we do and say. Thank you for your forgiveness and your unconditional love that gives us hope, peace and assurance that we are your child, even when we fail. Amen.
"Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way; Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart; Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done; Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat; Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave; "Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears; Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score; When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn; Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say,”Thy will be done”; And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”; Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.
(C.T. Studd )