Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. – Ecclesiastes 12:1-4
I hear a very loud bird chirping away each morning this week as I leave the house. He’s very excited to be awake and ready to catch that worm. Perhaps he’s searching for a date.
Time passes and there are opportunities now that won’t be here tomorrow.
Each night I put my head on the pillow and it seems I was just doing this a few minutes ago. I know that living isn’t passing by more quickly than it did in the past. What’s happening is I’m not as connected as I once was. Sitting in the dark theater not paying attention to the film and then suddenly the credits roll by. Time didn’t speed up. Disengagement made the present seem to pass by too fast.
In the West we are born into a culture that’s shaped to think about linear progress – moving forward, maybe a few steps backward. Standing still is really not an option. When people find themselves stuck in neutral or pushed off the side of the road, it can cause a great deal of anxiety – this isn’t what’s supposed to happen, is it?
“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”
I often wonder where I’m really going during this stage in my life?
Thinking about the progression of life, there are stages; childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age. I think each can also be subdivided as well. I read a stage theory from a guy named Mark Manson. He doesn’t seem to have any academic credentials and likes to cuss a lot (maybe that draws attention?). Anyway his four stages of life struck me as worth thinking about; (1) mimicry, (2) self-discovery, (3) commitment and then (4) legacy.
I wonder where I am right now? Sometimes I feel like I’m caught in the middle. Does unfinished business in one stage keeping me from fully passing to the next? Do I really want to venture into a “legacy” period of life? Then I hear that bird calling out each morning. Make today count for something.
It’s not like my life isn’t filled with activity. I’m heading off rapidly in some direction each day (who knows if it’s the right way?). There’s always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to meet. Yet, when I think about it, I spend a lot of time drifting in circles. My life seems busy, but it’s not always going anywhere. That’s a problem.
“Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” ―
I used to have big goals that drove me onward into the future. These no longer exist. For many reasons, they disappeared. Having something meaningful to accomplish, no matter how distant, always pull me through the dreary here and now and produce an expectancy about tomorrow.
Focusing on others instead of yourself, that’s the right path to walk each day. My life ought to be something I can give and do for those around me. I’m losing too many days to the past and the future.
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.” ―
That bird each morning reminds me that here and now matters. There is something to do today. I am to open my eyes and look for the opportunity to practice my faith, heal wounds, speak truth, give sacrificially, and turn my cheek if need be.
I heard a benediction at the end of worship a few weeks ago. It was written by our pastor (I think) and it struck me between the eyes because it seemed to provide some assurance to all of us who are in transition and wondering where we are supposed to be going/doing right now:
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
God has a purpose in your being right where you are.
Christ, who indwells you by the power of his Spirit,
wants to do something in and through you.
Believe this and go in his grace, his love, his power.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.