Life is shorter than we think

I turned 33 yesterday. It’s honestly kind of shocking when I stop to think about it. I don’t feel 33, but then what is a 33-year-old supposed to feel like? When I was a kid, I thought 25 sounded so far away. But now? Well, just the other night, I was hanging out with a bunch of 25-year-olds, marveling at how young they all were. Where did the time go? And how does your perspective change so much in just 10 years?

If you’re not careful, your life will get away from you. If you aren’t paying attention, years will slip through your fingers. And then one day, you’ll wake up, and you’ve lived your entire life. It really does happen that way. So what can you do about it?

10Q7Y8YST0Today’s verses are Psalm 90:10-12.

Seventy years are given to us!
Some even live to eighty.
But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;
soon they disappear, and we fly away.
Who can comprehend the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.

If I remember correctly, this is one of the Psalms that Moses wrote. Yeah, burning bush, Ten Commandments, Let My People Go Moses. He wrote Psalms too. He also wrote the first five books in the Bible.

He understood this concept of how brief life is, and he lived a long time. What he also tells God is that even our best years still brim with sorrow and frustration. I can identify with that. It’s been a great year. I’m chasing my dream for real–for the first time in my life, and I couldn’t be happier. But I’ve had a lot of crap going on this year too. My goodness. It’s almost unreal the level of irritation and craziness I’ve had to put up with.

And then, just like that, life is over, and it’s time to go home. What do we get on earth anyway? 70 years? 80 years? Some get more. Some get less. But regardless how long you live, in comparison to eternity, it’s not a lot of time.

Life is short. It doesn’t feel short when we’re young. When we’re young, it feels like it’ll stretch out forever, and no one is immune. When I was in junior high, I really made a concerted effort to appreciate the time I had. I didn’t do a good enough job because I still ended up in high school way faster than I expected. I tried the same thing in high school, but it flew by even faster. And on and on it went until I realized just a few days ago that I’ve been out of college for 10 years. 10 years!

What the heck?

The point is don’t take your life for granted. You’re still here. You’re reading this. That means you’ve still got a job to do, so don’t just shove that fact to the side to think about later. You may not get later.

Live each day the best you can. Make the most of every moment with all your strength. When you’re looking for ways to bring glory to God in everything you do every moment of the day, you’ll find them. Don’t hold on to regrets either. Try to live a life that keeps you from having them, but when you do, let them go. They’re time wasters. Just like guilt. That doesn’t do anyone any good.

So let’s all wake up and get busy doing real work that really matters. Life is shorter than we think, and none of us have a lot of time left. So let’s make the most of it while we can.

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Each of us is but a breath … so don’t waste it in silence

Wednesday and Thursday of last week were very sad days in Wichita, Kansas. The news broke on Thursday that a well-known personality in our amazing city was murdered in a senseless act of violence. It’s one thing when a celebrity in some other part of the country dies or is killed in a car wreck. It’s something else when it happens to someone who touched your own life, even if it were indirectly.

I didn’t know Tanya Tandoc, but I ate at her restaurant frequently. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is one of those Wichita landmarks that you just have to visit. But beyond her soup and her amazing recipes, from what I am told, Tanya was a really awesome person. And even though I didn’t know her, I feel the city’s loss. I also frequented her brother’s coffee shop–Espresso To Go Go. Both locations. I love their coffee, and everyone inside is always so nice. From what I understand, they had a falling out some time ago, and I’m not sure if they ever made up. Her brother posted a moving, touching statement on Facebook … my heart just hurts for them.

Horrible things happen to good people. The world is broken. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. And it’s a solemn, sobering reminder that if there’s something between you and another loved one–family or not–you should make it right before it’s too late. You might not get another day.

Amazing, beautiful, tasty soups from the incredible Tanya's Soup Kitchen in Wichita, KS

Amazing, beautiful, tasty soups from the incredible Tanya’s Soup Kitchen in Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 39:4-7.

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.
We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.

It’s hard to hold on to hope when bad things happen, but what else can we do? Give up? Sure, you can, but what good does that do? What does that accomplish? And maybe it’s easy to blame God and accuse Him of not caring. He’s an easy target after all, because if He’s so good, why does He let bad things happen?

Well, we know the answer to that. Bad things happen because the world is broken, and we are the ones who broke it. And what our lives come down to is trust–trusting that God is as good as He says He is, trusting that He knows what He’s doing, and that He can bring something beautiful out of tragedy and heartbreak.

It’s easy to get trapped thinking that we have enough time. It’s easy to put stuff off because we can do it tomorrow. But we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We can’t control that. And if we can wrap our heads around it, it would change the way we live. It would change the way we treat people. It would change the way we spend money.

It might be a difficult choice, but isn’t it worth it? If you don’t wake up in the morning, do the people you love know that you love them? Or have you let life and petty squabbles come between you?

Life is brief. Don’t waste it.

Storm rolling in

God can still work things out even when we screw up

I don’t know how often you screw up, but I make a lot of mistakes. I’m not perfect, of course; nobody is. But in the instances when I know the right thing to do, sometimes I choose to do what I know I shouldn’t in spite of the fact. And I have spent a lot of time worrying over my past mistakes and how my actions have affected the people around me.

But I don’t think it’s healthy to live your life looking backward and second-guessing what you could have done differently. You can’t change it. Yes, you can change the way you live because of what you learned, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but after a day when I am less than perfect, I can sink into a deep pit of self-loathing because I didn’t live up to my potential. And I feel like a wretched person because if I had done right, maybe God would have used me to help others.

Storm rolling in

Storm rolling in - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Jonah 1:16.

 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

I have always glossed over this verse before. It didn’t really matter to me. After all, the Book of Jonah is about Jonah, a godly man who God sent on a task and who promptly ran the opposite direction. Don’t be too hard on Jonah for trying to escape God; we’ve all tried it too and failed just as miserably.

So what’s important about the sailors?

Well, you really should read the whole first book of Jonah. Actually, you should read the whole book if you haven’t. It’s pretty phenomenal. But in any case, the sailors were the men on the boat to Tarshish, the boat Jonah got on when he was running away from God. And God sent a storm, and the sailors freaked out. Jonah convinced them to throw him in the ocean, and the storm stopped. That’s the story in a nutshell. But a couple of things stand out to me.

One, if you read the whole fist chapter, you’ll see that the sailors knew Jonah followed a different god than they did. Two, they knew Jonah was running away from God. Three, they already respected Jonah’s God enough to pray that He wouldn’t strike them down for throwing Jonah overboard.

And so they threw Jonah over the side, and the storm stopped. And that brings us to verse 16.

The sailors were changed by what they had experienced. And though Jonah played a small part, it was mainly God who did the work.

Do you realize that Jonah probably never saw those sailors again? I mean, it’s possible that he did. But if you know the story, as soon as he gets out of the fish that God sent to save him, he goes directly to Ninevah, where he should have gone to start with. And Ninevah is in the opposite direction of Tarshish. So it’s really unlikely that Jonah would have ever encountered those men again. Jonah would not have known how his circumstances affected them. He wouldn’t have known about their decision to serve God. All Jonah would know is that he screwed up.

Yes, he made the right call on the ship when he told them to cast him overboard. And God redeemed that one good decision to reach the men on the ship. But Jonah didn’t know that.

So how does that apply to us? Well, we’re going to screw up. We just do. You can try to be perfect, but it won’t work. Does that mean we shouldn’t even try? That’s not what I’m saying, so please don’t misunderstand me. We all should aim to be like Christ, to live the way God has directed us. But once you make the decision to do wrong, that decision is made. You will face the consequences, and hopefully you’ll learn the lesson and change the way you live afterward.

But after you ask forgiveness and after you change your thinking, don’t go back and regret what you did. Don’t live in the past. God has forgiven you, and — what’s more — He will use what you did to bring glory to Himself, even if it’s something you screwed up.