“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
I love the fall season with its brilliant colors, crisp air and the smell of football in the air. I feel so much more alive, getting up on these early mornings and walking out to the truck, the cool air hitting my face. I then travel to work through Horns Valley and Chandlers Springs into Clay County in beautiful central Alabama. It is twenty or so miles of pristine, brightly colored rolling hills and deep valleys. Many mornings, heading East, I can see the beautiful red and orange colors of the sun trying to peek through the dense fog as I drive in and out of valleys into the countryside. I have lived all over the world but this little piece of paradise is special and tranquil. Some mornings I just want to keep driving and not stop at work because of the beauty God paints for me each morning. So majestic and powerful are the colors that it sometimes blinds me with its beauty and takes my breath away. I know many who cannot see and I am amazed that God would bless me to have the sight to be able to see His beauty.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9
I don’t know if it is me getting a little long in the tooth or getting wiser, I try, but often fail, to enjoy each day as if it is my last. I notice the things and the people around me more than when I was younger and running a hundred miles an hour. I call it “living in the moment”. Let me explain my change in thinking.
A little over 10 years ago, I had my first stroke. I woke up that morning assuming it would be like any other day. While taking a shower, I realized it might not. I was having a problem standing up straight. I went on to work, made an appointment to see my doctor (wife wouldn’t stop bugging me about getting an appointment) and went about my daily business. When the doctor said, “You have had a stroke and I will be admitting you into the hospital immediately” I was stunned. This could not be happening to me. I’m in great shape. This is supposed to happen to someone else!
As I lay in that hospital bed that night with my wife, Dot, sleeping in a chair beside my bed, I looked at her for a long time, appreciating her for all she had done for me over the years and forgiving me for all the wrong I had done. I asked myself, “Does she know how much I appreciate her and love her?”
What if I had another stroke before she woke up and I didn’t get a chance to tell her? I reached over and touched her arm and quietly said, “I love you with all my heart and appreciate everything you do. I just wanted you to know.”
I felt a huge weight roll off my shoulders. I then started to evaluate my whole life and wondered if I had done everything I was put on this earth to do. I realized then that many opportunities to touch other people and to truly appreciate this thing called life had passed me by. I had been too busy living life to truly LIVE life. From that time on I’d like to think I am different and I do cherish people and the years, months, days and every second God has given me as a gift.
I guess since that day God has given me a new perspective. I take time now to enjoy everything and everyone that crosses my path. I say, “I love you” a lot more than before and I do things now that it might not look cool but I do it anyway. I’ll get down in the dirt with my grand-kids and not care how dirty I get. I laugh hard now not caring how I sound. Most of my hair has waved good bye over the years, but that doesn’t bother me either. God has a wonderful way of talking to us, if we will only listen.
At one time, having male pattern baldness really bothered me, having that round spot on the back of my head reached down deep into my vanity but then something happened that stopped it from mattering. One day our second grandchild, a beautiful little girl of six months, was sitting on my shoulders and I noticed she had put her hands right in that bald spot. I moved her hands to see what she would do and she put them right back in that spot. They were a perfect fit! I almost cried. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Now do you know why you have that spot? It is so your grandkids have a place to put their small hands when they are on your shoulders.” Wow! My male pattern baldness doesn’t bother me any longer needless to say.
Living with the certain knowledge that your life is fragile and limited is different than just living. Things here are passing away. You’ve got to hold on to what will stand. Savor what matters. Showing love to your fellow man will last forever.
A few years ago I tried this principle out. It was Christmas time, Dot and I were in the toy section of a local WalMart. Talk about a mess; toys were everywhere!
A young clerk was on her hands and knees frantically trying to pick up and re-organize her department. No sooner than she’d clean up one area, kids would come through and mess it up again. From the other end of the aisle, I saw her just sit on the floor with her shoulders slumped over. She was in deep despair.
I knew then why I was there. It wasn’t just to shop for gifts, but to uplift someone. I walked down the aisle and said, “Miss, thank you for keeping this section organized because if you did not, no one could find anything. Merry Christmas.”
The young lady looked up at me and said, “Thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too.” Her face had changed from a deep scowl to a smile, all because of a few kind words that didn’t cost me time nor money. Kindness and love are amazing aren’t they? They are a great tool against sadness and depression.
Life Is Short. Eternity Is Long. Live Like It.
Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant.
You will exist forever. How long doesn’t matter. How you live does! Time is precious.
Psalm 31:19 Oh how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for them that fear you…
Squeeze Life out of Every Second by making those seconds count!