Spending Time, Saving Lives, The Moldy Manna of Hoarded Days

I read a card the other day that made me laugh.

On the front it said “I tried living every day as though it was my last”.

 Inside it said, “But people got tired of me running around screaming ‘I’m going to die! I’m going to die!’”

I laughed because I can relate to feeling the pressure of the philosophy of “living each day like it’s your last”. If I lived that way I would certainly NEVER spend an afternoon cleaning out my closets, I would walk out on boring sermons before they were through and I certainly wouldn’t be found at the grocery store, the dentist or a staff meeting!

Of course, that’s the problem with finding one’s philosophy for life from a bumper sticker or a beer commercial. Somewhere between “Go for the gusto” and “Stop and smell the roses” there are a million choices to make every single day about how we spend the time we have.

I think it’s telling that we speak of “spending” time. A woman I know told me that she’s feeling contemplative because she only has a few years left before she reaches the age at which her parents died. Her husband has already passed on and her children live on the opposite coast.

She’s reflecting now on how to “spend her remaining years”. Does she “spend” them on herself pursuing her own interests after a lifetime of working and caring for others? Or does she” invest” them in her grandchildren and risk considerable emotional upheaval by selling her home and relocating to be near them?

Tough stuff but I respect her debate. Either choice could prove worthwhile if made after discussion with God.

Interesting, isn’t it? That the value of our days can be found in the very language we use to discuss it – as though it were a commodity like cash. We spend our days. We invest our time.

I believe this is how we should look at the limited life we’ve been given on earth because the one thing we are warned not to do with life is to try to “save” it. Jesus says in Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

We should not “save” our lives because it is in this way that we squander them.

Years ago I attended the funeral of a man who did just that. Anyone at that graveside was there out of duty or out of respect for life, not because the man had loved them or invested in them. All he had done was to “put in his time” on this earth, as if, out of selfishness and fear, he’d stuffed his days in a mattress only to fall asleep smoking and send it all up in flames – such was the waste of his many years. In trying to save all of his days for himself, he lost everything.

We cannot save our lives. God encourages us to spend them for Him and to invest them in others. And this looks mighty different from one soul to the next.

One may live the life of a contemplative with days of simple design focused on God and open to caring for whatever souls they may encounter. Another may live for Christ in a flurry of airports, Blackberries, deadlines and strategic goals seeking to reach the world and scheduling times for prayer and Bible reading on a Palm pilot. No one can judge from the outside how another is spending his or her days.

A minister’s life can be squandered if his primary focus is filling the pews, building the budget and marketing himself while a grocery store clerk’s life can be marked with holiness if her eyes are on Jesus and she looks to intercede for and impart grace to the lives of those around her.

I think it’s a beautiful gift that God gave us the ability to change, to reinvent ourselves at any moment, to utilize U-turns, off-ramps and roads less traveled in this life we have. I believe we should live every moment for Christ until our last mortal breath. We should never retire from life. We should take risks. We should get our hands dirty. We should sleep in once in a while. We should attempt to go off the high dive. We should laugh until we’re snorting milk out of our noses. We should weep and rage and sing the high notes. We should write the letter, make the call, show up for others and drop out sometimes to be alone with God for days.

I believe I am free to live, to risk, to fail, to spend my days, to invest my time in others, to screw up, to be forgiven, to sleep, to wake, to dream, to create, to wait, to sacrifice, to work, to labor and to experience life in its fullness because my LIFE is safe, hidden with Christ. Paul wrote to the Colossian church “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4

Christ spent His life on my behalf. He invested in eternity.

So I am free to spend my life on Him, to invest in building the kingdom. Whether I go for the gusto or stop and smell the roses, whatever I do for Him is time well-spent, days invested wisely. Whatever I do without Him, I squander, I waste, I throw away like cash invested in the devil’s longest running Ponzi scheme. If I try to save my days for myself, I will one day review my stores to find them molded and rotting like day-old manna.

Make your life a spending spree! Spend it on Christ. Invest it in the kingdom of God. The people of Noah’s time saved their lives for a rainy day and look what happened to them.

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    The Conversation

  1. Andrea says:

    Praying I will honor Christ in all I say and do! I want to live a life worthy of carrying out all that HE has for me to do, big and small!
    Blessings, hugs, and prayers,

  2. Cheri says:

    I loved this post, Lori. So encouraging!

    Thank you,