A father and child were spending a day at an amusement park. Countless hours spent riding every ride. They braved rides that came in every shape and size, from the extreme thrill rides to the adventure river, and some that just spin and spin to nauseam. Throughout the day, they even rode several twice, because they were just that much fun. To replenish their energy, they feasted on all the fair food from Cotton Candy, Hot Dogs, Cheesecake on a stick, Ice Cream, and Funnel Cakes. With the evening the daylight faded, and the lights of the fairground transformed the night sky. They continued exploring every wonder the park had to offer. After dark, the father sat with his child and watched an amazing fireworks display over the mirror lake the park surrounded. The explosions of every color kept the child guessing what would come next, and what shape it would be. As the grand finale of fireworks popped its last color in the night sky, the father picked up and gave a long hug to his child. Then he walked with his child hand in hand back toward the entrance of the park. The child, realizing the night was ending, pleaded with the father for just a little more time. “Please, just one more ride! Just a little longer - I want to see this too!”
As children, we might remember similar moments with our parents. As parents, we no doubt have had similar request from our children. These requests are often for more time, to do more, and have more. It is in these efforts, that we physically over commit ourselves - just in the pursuit to maximize our time and be certain we have filled it entirely.
In our spiritual life, it is often reversed. Important matters postponed, destructive habits continued, and the demanding and difficult issues never addressed. In many cases, we justify delaying this because of the previously mentioned over committing in other areas. Ultimately, each day we are caught in a hurried survival mode - meanwhile deceiving ourselves that one day we will have more time. The reality is, there is no guarantee of more time. The present is what we only have, and as Christians, how we redeem that time ultimately will become our past. The past is what we ultimately answer for and will reference to our father.
In Isaiah the 38th chapter, we read of Hezekiah imploring of God in prayer for mercy, after being stricken with a terminal illness. Hezekiah references his past in his prayer, in hopes that it may find favor with the Lord. We see that God hears his prayer and tells Isaiah that Hezekiah will be granted another 15 years to his life.
We are fortunate children. The longer we live, the more we can see that our God is long suffering and patient with us. We read of this in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
We see an example of His hope and mercy for us shown here towards Hezekiah, but how often do we exploit this characteristic of our Lord in our own lives? We can live like He will always be flexible and forgiving, despite our lack of effort to continually seek Him. If we continue this path, we are prone to lose the sense of immediacy in our own present lives. This deception we can all fall prey to, and that can be difficult to detect. A way to see if we are living in this manner is to consider a scenario similar to Hezekiah's. He had been gifted with knowing when his end would come…. If we knew we only had 15 years left of our lives, how might this change what we do on a daily basis? What would you be diligent to hurry and do? What would you slow down or spend more time on? If we aren’t already doing many of these priorities, then we are deceiving ourselves as if life will go on and on indefinitely. We are not even certain that we have the same amount of time. There’s no guarantee of 15 more months, 15 more days, or even 15 more hours.
On any given day, someone in this world is receiving word about an abrupt death of a family member. A thousand miles away a mother of four is being told the progression of her disease has worsened, and her time here is short. A few minutes later at a local mall, while families are spending the day together, a gunman takes 11 lives within 15 minutes. We see the evidence of the brevity of life daily. James 4:14 paints a picture from the perspective of our omniscient creator: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Although it is relatively short in his eyes, God intends for us to live life with purpose. The apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5 to wake up and be aware. He advises in verse 15 “be careful how you live -not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity”
As Christians, our lives are not our own. A price was paid for each one of us. So, we are of great value to Him. Remembering this helps us to consider that the time we have is a gift on loan from our Savior. It also gives us a hope to see that though physical life here in His terrestrial creation is short, there is an eternal life beyond this.
Let us revisit the previously described scene of the Father and child and consider our lives in the same manner. At the close of the day… are we ready to go home with Him, or are we still hanging on to things of this life?
- Rett Griffith