Humans operate under a strange, but natural, thought process. We always believe that whatever we are going through at the time the most important thing in our lives.
Think back to when you were in school. That was twelve long years of your life. But at the time it was your life. There was not, nor could be, anything bigger. If you ask a student about the their school years they will tell you that they are one of the largest segments of their life. It seems that they will always be in school. No, not just the usual, “Will I ever get out of here?” hopelessness. I mean that they cannot conceive of anything in their life being longer in years or more important in action than what they are doing right now. For this reason they never look ahead. Oh, I know, the concept of school is “preparing for the future.” But students never weigh their present actions against future consequences.
I’ve talked with scores of men who suffer from physical problems as a result of a high school sports career. But at the time, playing football was the biggest thing in their life. They couldn’t, and wouldn’t pass it up based on what it would cost them years later.
Many a young girl lost her purity on a date because she wanted to please some boy. She couldn’t see that it would be a memory that would haunt her the rest of her life. Her school years were too big, too important at the time.
When I was in school, it was my entire life. Now I look back and see what a minuscule portion of my overall years it was. I was in school for twelve years. At the time, that seemed a lifetime. I graduated in 1968. Kids who were born the day I graduated have now been out of school longer than they were in it! I got my doctorate in 1980. More time has passed since that one event than I spent in school. I pastored for five years. At the time, it was my life. Yet, I have been in evangelism for fifteen years. Three times as long.
I know of a man whose wife died after 24 years of marriage. He has now been married longer than that to his second wife. At the time, his first marriage seemed like it would be the largest segment of his life, larger than those few years in school. Yet now, it is that this is the largest segment. I know of a man whose wife died and he got remarried at 63 years old. He died at age 97. Who would have believed he would celebrate a second “Thirtieth Anniversary”? I heard of a retired logger who went to the mission field at age 68 and spent thirty years there. Who would have believed he would have an entirely new life of thirty more years?
Kathy and I have been married twenty-nine years. We have lived more years married than we did single. But when we were single we thought that those were the largest segment of our existence. Just like you, we were wrong. Our thinking process couldn’t see beyond now in importance.
You parents whose children have grown up. When they were babies you thought it would last forever. When they were children they would “always” be children. Then one day they were too big for your lap. Now you look back and wish you had done things differently during those very few, short years they were “lap size.”
Now, flash forward. Not a year. Not a decade. A century. You will be conscious one hundred years from right now. Now go out one thousand years from right now. Will your golf game seem important? Will the decor of your house be a major issue? One hundred thousand years from right now you will look back to your time on earth, even if it lasts one hundred years, like you look back at your brief school years now. You will realize that your time on earth was the shortest single segment of your eternal existence. Will your softball trophy be so important then? The kind of car you drove? Your status in life? You will spend your eternity longer than you were in school, longer than you worked a job, longer than you were married, longer than you lived on earth! Just as you really didn’t think about life when you were in school you haven’t really been thinking about eternity as you live today.
No one realizes any better than I do that all of us only have a finite number of productive days in our lives. I mean, out of all the days you breath there are only a small number of them that you actually produce something. And of those days an even smaller number in which you produce something that will carry over into eternity, your REAL life.
Some days you don’t produce anything because you get sidetracked fixing something around the house or on the car. Some days it is because of an unscheduled interruption in what would have been a productive day. I have days I can do no more than read my Bible and then go back to bed. Another lost day! If I live to be one hundred I’m more than half way there. If I only get the biblical “threescore and ten.” I’m within two decades of it. If the Lord returns in the next five years then the end of productivity is real close. Using 70 years old as a stopping point, I realize that in those nineteen remaining years there will only be a limited number of them that I’ll be able to produce anything. That’s why I am driven to produce!
There was a time when I would have wanted to rappel down the face of a cliff. There was a time when I would have wanted to learn to sky dive. Not now. No, it isn’t cowardice. It is using a productive day to do something unproductive. I want what productive days I have left to count forever. One hundred thousand years from now it won’t matter if I ever jumped out of an airplane or hit a hole-in-one.
What about you? How much of what is important in your thinking today will be important one hundred thousand years from now? Of those limited productive days you have left, how many will actually accomplish something that will last forever? Five hundred years from today will you look back at your very few years in this life and think you were a fool?
Just as the short period of your life you spent in school was not your real life, so these few short years on earth are not your real life! Just as those few years you spent in school were preparing you for today, these few years are preparing you for eternity.
Wait! Before you bemoan “wasted years” remember this, you’re still breathing, the Lord hasn’t come back yet…SO GET STARTED! Don’t use the “The Lord’s coming back soon so there’s no sense in starting” excuse rob you of using what productive days you have left doing something that you will thank yourself for a thousand years from right now.
There are “talkers” and there are “doers.” Which are you going to be?