[Personal note: I normally send out my posts on Thursday afternoon. I failed to get one out last Thursday, which was Christmas Eve. You may think that the reason was excessive celebration. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Today is the deadline for me to get a book to an editor, and I have been crashing to get that done. In fact, I was up at 2: 30 this morning making some last-minute revisions. I’m happy to say that it is done and has been sent in.
I trust that the Lord blesses you and your family with a happy New Year and a wonderful 2016. Paul]
The old-timers had a lot of wisdom. I had a great uncle who believed in buying land. He said, “The way I see it, they’re not making any more of it.” However, from my perspective and even more valuable commodity is time. You can’t buy it, and what you have is slipping away, which brings us to the final grains of the 2015 hourglass sliding through the hole to oblivion. No, that hourglass you can’t just turn over and redo. It’s gone forever.
One of the strangest phenomena I have ever experienced was the attitude regarding time of most (virtually all) of the patients I had while I was a hospice chaplain. To qualify for hospice a person needs to manifest a collage of symptoms that indicate that he will die shortly. Somehow that reality never seemed to dawn on them. They tended to view themselves as being immortal.
Of course, objectively they knew better, but human beings tend to live in their private subjective world that only occasionally intersects with reality.
Hospice patents are not the only ones that are immortal. Most of us live there. Objectively I know that barring the Rapture, someday I will have a headstone with my name on it, but it’s hard to sense that as a reality.
There’s a danger in that deceptive psychological phenomenon. It makes it easy to do a poor job, or no job at all, of life stewardship, counting the years we have remaining and determine their most effective use.
Yes, I realize that we can’t know how many years we have left, but we have a responsibility to at least consider the odds. Just because I don’t know if I will be here tomorrow doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t plan for it. In fact, God expects me to plan for it. If He has other plans for me that’s His business, but I should at least count the years the odds tell me that I have left and make a plan to use them most effectively.
That’s where New Year’s Day can be helpful. We can use it as a reminder that another year is gone and that we need to recalculate how many are left and update our plan for using them. Moses prayed that the Lord would prompt us in that endeavor. He prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
So, given the odds, the actuary tables, how many years do you have left? Of course we must adjust for various factors in making that calculation. If you run with the bulls every year you may want to bring down the number a bit.
But taking your best guess at the years you have left, how can they best be used for the Lord? Don’t be like many of my hospice patients who allowed life to drain away one Bonanza program at time. Peter tells us to do otherwise. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10 ESV) A very important aspect of that gift resides in the time it includes. Peter instructs us to be good stewards, i.e. manage that time, develop a plan for its most effective use.
As the ball drops in Times Square, let that be a challenge to us to make a plan to manage your remaining years to achieve the most for the Lord.