I remember as a child making statements like, “I wish it were tomorrow.” Or “I wish it were summer time.” I guess those must be pre-adolescent coping mechanisms because I hear my son making similar statements when confronted with a difficult day at school or the frustration of a long cold winter. Perhaps what I remember more clearly than my own statements were my mother’s quick replies, “Don’t wish your life away.” Thirty years later, I must admit that it would be nice to reclaim some of those wished away days.
It doesn’t take a PhD to realize that life is something that must be carefully budgeted. I tend to believe that you can always go out and make more money. You can go learn new skills and take up new hobbies. You can pursue more happiness and pleasure, but there is one commodity that you cannot secure more of and that is life. You cannot extend the calendar of your life.
This week, there was a news story of a man walking on the beach in Hilton Head. He was listening to his iPod and was unaware of what was about to happen. A plane with a stalled engine had to make an emergency landing on the beach, inadvertently striking the man and killing him. While I am fairly confident that the fellow who was killed probably had more on his agenda that day, the truth was that the budget of his calendar had already been spent. An event like this, the epitome of freak accidents, reminds us of just how quickly our budget can run out.
As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in a situation where he once again had to contemplate his own mortality. He was in a jail with three choices – go free, die in prison, or be executed. If we’re honest, we would admit that only one of those options sounds at all appealing. Yet Paul didn’t spend time pleading for deliverance. Nor did he venture down the “Woe is me” trail. Paul understood that the victory was already secured in life and in death. He was fully aware that his days were budgeted, but it really didn’t matter. In Paul’s life, Jesus wins either way.
The big question is simple, is God pleased with the way you are spending your budget? Maybe you are like me and you’ve wasted a lot of days. I often think of my high school days when I was a Christian but did nothing for the Kingdom. If I live to be 80, that is 5% of my budget that was not spent very well. If I were to add up the hours spent in laziness, vain pursuits, and sinful rebellion, I shudder at the thought of that percentage. My only prayer is that I will spend the remaining percentage well, whatever God is pleased to give me.
Paul told the Philippian Church that they should live their lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. That’s the best way to make the days count – to start each day with a desire to be pleasing to God; to make each decision based on a desire to be pleasing to God. Ultimately, we should want our lives to be pleasing to God, not out of a motive to manipulate Him, but because we love Him and as the psalmist says, we serve Him with gladness.
Take some time this week to fill out a pie chart of your life. What percentage can you say was worthy of the Gospel of Christ?