My mom, sister, and I went to a park yesterday to run one loop and then switch to biking for the second loop. When I switched to my bike, my mom cautioned me not to speed way ahead. I teasingly responded, “Define ‘speeding‘.”
Likewise, when I think, “Don’t waste your life”, defining “waste” might come in handy.
According to the Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary, waste means, “To use or expend thoughtlessly, uselessly, or without return; squander.” Or, my personal favorite, “To fail to use or take advantage of, as an opportunity.”
Life is one unique opportunity that will never come again.
Life is today.
When I was thinking about this idea to write about, a quote from a Dreamworks movie came to mind. (They’re almost as good as Disney 😉 ) The turtle from Kung Fu Panda said, “You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
Wow. There’s actually more wisdom in there than one would expect from a cartoon.
Life is today.
If one thinks about that phrase in terms of story problem math, “is” always means “=”. So, really, it could be said, “Life = today.” But who thinks of life that way? I’m a planner, so I love to plan things and dwell on little details to make everything perfect for an event in the near or far future. Sometimes I love planning something so much, that when the actual event rolls around, I don’t settle down and enjoy it.
Now, listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Since most people tend to feel invincible, including myself, let’s do a little illustration of what “mist” looks like,
Imagine a really, really, really looooooooong string wrapping around the earth’s circumference 100 times. Now the earth’s circumference is about 24,902 miles around. Multiply that by 5,280 – feet in a mile – and you’ll get 131,482,560 feet. I know you’re thinking, Jessica, what’s the point in all this math in the summer? – hang in there. Multiply 131,482,560 times 100, the length of our string ends up to be 13,148,256,000 feet long. That’s almost 14 billion feet!
Now, imagine that our 13,148,256,000 ft long string represents time. Further imagine that the lifespan of a human – me, you, anyone – is marked with an inch wide bright red ribbon tied on the string.
Yay! More math 😀
13,148,256,000 ft x 12 in. = 157,779,072,000 inches. I’m just 1 inches worth of time on a 157,779,072,000 inch long string of time. That’s all I have. I might even have less time because of an accident in the near future that I don’t know about or Jesus might come back in the next 10 minutes while I’m typing. I’m not guaranteed my next breath, much less the next 20 years.
Don’t worry, I’m not being morbid 🙂
In fact, it’s actually good for us to feel our own fleeting existence so that we might be in greater awe of God. He is eternal. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He gives us our every breath and gives us every day to use for his glory. However, he won’t force us to give him everything, including today. It’s a choice.
I love this quote by C. S. Lewis!:
“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.” —C. S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Any choice I make outside of God won’t be a good decision. God is the source of all goodness, love, and light. “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” Going back to the quote from Kung Fu Panda, ” . . . but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” Do you think that God gives us each day to be lived for his glory? I do. That’s the only way to the best days, and ultimately to a life lived to the fullest.
I’d like to make myself and you a challenge: If life = today, what are you doing with your life?