Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Using The Time We Have Well

We're currently monitoring the status of and praying for two friends from our past who may die way too soon. Recently, people at the church where I serve have passed away with seemingly many years left in a normal lifespan. We had special prayer for a woman in her 50's who has cancer. 

And while I don't want to be manipulatively morbid and know that most of us would rather not talk about something like the brevity of life and the reality of death, every day does matter. We may get thousands more sunrises or sunsets or just one.

I have officiated many funerals over the years and unlike weddings, I don't ever look forward to them. Yes, they can be times of celebration of a life well lived though short, but there is still heartache and pain for the families and friends involved who have lost someone well before their "time." We hurt from losing them but also when we think about how much more they might have done. There are no easy answers that take away their pain.

So it makes sense and certainly agrees with Biblical wisdom for us to number our days (Psalm 90), to remember that we all only get so many twenty - four hour periods and some of us will have less than others.
What will we do with them especially when it comes to our marriages and children? Let me suggest a couple of things.

First, keep taking inventory regarding how you're spending your resources: time, talent and finances. There's no one right set of priorities that everyone should follow but are you investing your resources in the things that really matter? Or are you missing out on the things that really last by spending all your time trying to get more resources?

There's a delicate balance there but it makes sense that as we number our days we would err on the side of the things that are most important. For example, how much time do you give to just getting to know your kids and/or spouse versus merely providing for them or seeing that they get somewhere?

How much does your family give away versus get for yourselves? What life lessons are you intentionally teaching them? What spiritual input are you helping them get about God, salvation, and purpose in life?

Second, live as many moments as you can right here, right now. Too many people live in the someday, you know, "someday when _______________________ then I'll spend time with the kids, take a vacation, play with my son or daughter or serve God." Listen, someday will likely never come. Sure you may complete one task but another will be waiting for you or an even bigger obstacle will stand in your way.

Every day, do the little things that make you feel more alive. Hug your spouse, talk to your kids, serve someone else, give something away, ask God to use you to make a difference in someone that day. Sit on the porch with your coffee and just look at what God has made all around you. Marvel at his blessings toward you even if times are challenging right now. Find out something new about someone close to you.

This will probably mean you may have to give up something you tend to do a lot out of habit. You may need to turn off the TV, say no to a request, do your hobby one less time that week or skip checking your emails for a couple of hours, but it will be worth it! Instead of listening to the radio all the way to work, just be quiet or pray or think about a dream or two you've wanted to live out someday.

Third, be more thankful. It's thankful people who handle life's struggles the best. It's thankful people who cherish every day and don't despair as much when tragedy comes their way. It's thankful people who energize others and make a difference in them when they meet at church, in a store, at school or at work.

No, I'm not suggesting that we must be smiling, perky, and perhaps irritatingly joyful all the time.
Rather, thankful people have a deep sense of calm, assurance and maturity that builds up others. Thankful people don't get so uptight when life is hard.

So make the most of today and the next day and the next. Make every day a "bucket list" kind of day. Go to bed each night not saying, "I got the most out of today." Instead, find yourself saying, "I gave the most today and it was worth it." And should that day arrive when you discover it's time for you to leave this earth, you'll hopefully know that you didn't waste even one day on the unimportant things but lived life to the fullest!

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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