We were in Florida recently for my brother’s wedding, staying at a friend’s house, and I wound up in the emergency room with tremendous chest pain the night before we flew home. It was just inflammation in my lungs from the virus I’d had all week (and, I believe, my failure to rest like I was supposed to), but I thought I was having a heart attack. Since I was fully conscious, triage put me further down the emergency list, and I had plenty of time to lament to poor Ed how much I still wanted to do before leaving this life.
Did I write all the books and stories and essays I wanted to write? Did I love Ed well enough, and spend enough quality time with him? Did I inspire and encourage people enough? Will they remember me as a valuable life? Did I lead anyone to Christ? Did I fulfill God’s purpose for my life? Did I do enough of the good works He set for me to do?
When I stand at the end of all things and the fire of God tests the deeds of my life, I want what I’ve built to endure. Yet when I compare this list of questions, which reveals the goals I have that matter most, to my day-to-day choices, which reveal the steps I’m actually taking, I can see that my current path, with all its distractions and meanderings, isn’t quite leading to the desired destination. If I look at this list regularly, as a reminder, then maybe it will.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” —James 4:13-14 (ESV)
We only have so much control over our days, and sometimes the best use of our time is slowing down and enjoying what we have, not more efficiency. But what we do have control over is the time lost on Pinterest and Facebook and worry and vanity, which is so easy to forget as the days slip away. Though the years pass quickly, every day presents a host of opportunities. I want to remember that, and do whatever I can.