A mullberry tree and the yard light on a foggy morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

What difference can a puff of smoke make?

I got to spend some time with one of my closest friends yesterday. We’re both busy, so we don’t often get to actually sit down and just talk. So it was really nice, encouraging, refreshing. And in the course of our conversation, we discussed that we had known each other for seven years. Seven years!! That doesn’t seem possible. Because I would swear it was just yesterday we were on the OSU campus watching the Third Day/David Crowder Band contest and meeting for the first time.

And that got me think about how many other milestones have come and gone this year. My family moved to Wichita in July 1991; that was 22 years ago. We moved to the farm over Labor Day 1994; that was 19 years ago. We performed our first Judgement house in 2000; that was 13 years ago. The silly little kids I taught in Bible class on Wednesday nights are married now. The crazy teenagers from my drama team are married and some have children now. My fellow survivors from the class of 2001 have established families and careers around the US and even the world.

The list can go on and on, but the question is always the same. Where have all the years gone? How can time be moving so rapidly?

A mullberry tree and the yard light on a foggy morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A mulberry tree and the yard light on a foggy morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is James 4:14.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

I’ve always tried to appreciate the things I have when I have them, and I’ve always tried to be mindful of time. Growing up, everyone always told me how fast time goes, and I thought I’d done a pretty good job of it. I tried to make the most of every second. I didn’t waste time yearning and wishing to be older but did the best I could at the age I was.

But I don’t think you really appreciate how fast life flies until you’ve lived enough to look back on it. You can understand and believe that life goes fast when you’re 10 or 11, but you can’t really grasp how rapidly time can slip through your fingers until you’re 20 or 30 and you watch the children you knew as infants stepping up in leadership roles.

Our lives are nothing in the grand scale of eternity. They’re less than nothing. This translation compares our lives to morning fog, but I’m not sure if it’s really the clearest way to describe them. The Amplified Version says they’re “a puff of smoke.” Fog tends to hang around a little while, but smoke? Not so much. It’s here a moment and then it’s gone. What do we have? 80 years? 90 years? Maybe more. If you think about how many years have passed since the beginning of time (10,000 at the most), 80 or 90 years is nothing. But even 10,000 years fades in comparison to eternity. Eternity is timeless. You can’t even compare it.

I’ll be 31 this year. That blows me away. I have a hard time even writing it down because I remember thinking that 30 sounded old. But I can tell you that 30 years have gone by quicker than a camera flash.

So with our brief lives as small and insignificant as they are, what’s the point? So we make it to 100, so what? What difference does it make in comparison to eternity, or even in comparison to the 10,000 years of history that have already passed? Does it even matter?

I think deep inside all of us want to matter. We want to know that we’ve left a legacy, that when our time is done, people will still be touched. I’m pretty sure that’s too tall an order for any human being. But that’s one of many things that’s awesome about following God. God cares about small, insignificant things like me. Our lives, brief as they are, matter to Him. And the beauty of it all is that a life lived for Him, no matter if it’s 20 years or 30 years or 80 years or more, isn’t insignificant. God is a God who takes what is insignificant and uses it to do great big things–like helping other people generations and generations after our time is gone. That’s not something you can accomplish on your own.

So don’t despair that time is fleeting, but remember that our time is limited. And so are we. But if you’re a Christ-follower, the time you have is a gift, and you choose to use it in a way that God can grow. A puff of smoke isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in the world, but a puff of smoke in God’s hands can become something more. Because God has a history of taking small, insignificant things and making them last forever.

Sun behind the clouds

Trusting what will endure in a life that is temporary

When the sun rises in the morning, what are you doing? Are you still sleeping? Are you already at work? Are you on your way to work? We get 24 hours every day until the day that we die, and even though 24 hours a day sounds like a long time, it really isn’t. It seems even shorter in the winter time because the sun rises later and sets sooner.

The 24 hours we get in each day, we never get again. They come and they go. Fast. As a child, 30 seemed ancient and far away. But I will be 30 this year. But what is 30 years compared to 60? What is 60 compared to 80 or 90? And what is 90 compared to eternity? I think 90 years is a long time to live, but in the grand scope of what our existence will truly be, 90 years is nothing.

Sun behind the clouds

Sun behind the clouds - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, 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. 

We are so consumed with time, especially those of us in America. We all carry watches. We all have clocks, although most of my clocks are set wrong. We all have cell phones with the time displayed. Why? Because we don’t want to be late. Americans are the culture most controlled by the power of the clock. We rush from meeting to meeting, always listening to the tick-tock of time and rarely understanding its true significance.

We grasp and clutch and cling to our possessions because it took so long and we worked so hard to earn them. And in the brief time we are alive on earth, we scramble to accumulate as much wealth as possible so that we can live comfortably. Is that wrong?

Well, no. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to provide for yourself and your family. There are biblical examples of how to run businesses successfully. God has nothing against making money. But the problem with wealth and money and comfort is that they so easily become our idols. When wealth and money and comfort become what we live for, our lives lose their significance. Because what good will it do you when you die? You can’t take it with you.

Life is more than possessions. I try to remember that money is a tool to be used. And I know I struggled with it when I first started working at my current job because I’d gotten so used to having so little that I didn’t know how to live when I had so much. When I could pay my bills and buy my groceries and still have money left over, it threw me. And there is something about having a surplus of money that makes you want to hold on to it. Maybe it doesn’t work that way with everyone, but that’s the way my mind is geared. My first inclination is to hoard. But what good will that do?

No, it’s not wrong to save, especially for someone in my position in life. But if I ever let my hope rest in that savings account, I stop hoping in God.

Verse 11 of this same chapter in The Message says: When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?

God will allow punishment and testing into our lives when we do things that contradict His Word. When we allow money and comfort (or anything else) to take His place in our lives, He won’t let that go. And when the testing comes, those things that we cling to will burn away because they aren’t worth anything, in spite of what the world says.

Comfort. Money. Wealth. Fame. Power. Influence. Sex. None of it will last, and none of it will give you strength enough to face the next 24 hours, no matter how brief it might be in comparison to eternity. Because when God allows trouble into your life, you can try to rely on your idols but none of them will be able to withstand God’s testing.

Only God will remain.

So in our brief, temporary life on earth, it’s a good idea to put our hope in something that will last beyond it. Anything of earth is going to burn away. Everything we know down here is going to come to an end. We need to trust in God because when everything else comes crashing down, He will still be standing.

How much time do you have left to look?

What is alluring in the concept of procrastination? Why does it seem so much better to do something tomorrow instead of today? The “grass is greener on the other side” concept makes more sense to me. So why is it so easy to procrastinate?

At least with the “grass is greener” concept, you are actively doing something. You’re feeling jealous. And even if what you’re accomplishing is negative, at least you’re accomplishing something. But procrastinating? What does procrastinating accomplish? Wasting time?

In my case, procrastination usually rears its head when I’m too busy and I have too much work to do. I have too many projects to know which one is the one I should work on, so if I give into procrastination I don’t work on any of them. I have too many novels or short stories to write, so I don’t write any of them. Recently, procrastination has been really easy for me.

But the problem with procrastination is that even though you stop working, time keeps moving. Time isn’t on our side, fellow procrastinators, and one more day that passes with us doing nothing is one less day we have to get our work done. And when our deadline hits, we’ll be out of luck and there will be no more time to waste.

In that case, you have two choices — you can either scramble around a few hours before and do a crappy job. Or you can give up.

Now, I usually end up scrambling around and producing a half-decent piece of work which is why I can procrastinate so long . . . because only I know how much time I really wasted in its production (the guilt from things like this really cured me of the vast amount of my procrastination issues before I got out of college).

But some deadlines you can’t extend. And some responsibilities have a definite time limit. And there is no scrambling around to get it done at the last minute.

Today’s verse is Isaiah 55:6.

6 Seek the Lord while you can find him.
      Call on him now while he is near.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we should never procrastinate, but it’s just as easy to do it as it is with anything else. Maybe it’s because humans are wired to think that tomorrow will come like it always has.

But no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Shoot, we’re not even guaranteed today. I could get in my car to drive to work in ten minutes and hit a loose cow in the road and be killed. Someone driving in front of me could lose something off the back of their truck, like they did in June 2008, and I could go flying off an overpass and die. 

The point is, no one knows what today holds for us. And no one can be 100 percent certain that we will even see tomorrow. So why are we so confident that we have enough time to procrastinate? How can we procrastinate when we don’t even know what our deadline is?

The deal is this, I personally believe that as long as we’re alive on earth, if you seek the Lord, you will find Him. I don’t think God ever gives up on people. I don’t think there is ever someone who is too far away to come back. There are no examples in Scripture of turning anyone away who is genuinely seeking. 

The problem is, how much time do you have left to seek? Because if your life ends and you’re not right with God, you won’t be able to find Him anymore no matter how hard you look.

This even applies to those of us who already believe. We should still seek God in our lives after we have decided to believe in Christ. But even as believers, we have a limited amount of time on Earth and if we seek only the things of the world, what good will we accomplish for God while we’re here? And then, even when we get to heaven and even though God will be near to us, we will no longer have opportunity to serve Him where it matters.

I don’t know how much time I have. But whatever time I have, I need to make the most of by being focused on the things that matter and seeking God with everything I have. Because even though procrastination is easy, it’s never the right thing to do. And nothing worth achieving was ever easy.


Have you ever noticed that people are obsessed with time? Especially Americans. We live and die by the clock. . . . Well, we don’t really. We just think we do. A lot of other countries are the same, so it’s not a uniquely American problem. In all honest, I really think it’s a human problem.

I think subconsciously we realize that we aren’t going to live forever so we try to cram as much as we can into our lives. We stress ourselves out because there aren’t enough hours in a day to get all our work done, but if we had “enough” we’d just use them to work.

The verse today is about time, sort of. But it’s about God’s perspective on time, which is quite different from ours.

Psalm 90:2, 4

2 Before the mountains were born,
      before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
      from beginning to end, you are God.
4 For you, a thousand years are as a passing day,
      as brief as a few night hours.

Isn’t it interesting how differently God views time? But, after all, He created it. So, of course, He’s going to see it differently.

A lot of people are in awe of some manuscripts that I’ve written. To them, they are really excellent works of art that communicate a great truth. Well, to me, as I am never satisfied with anything I’ve written, it’s just a story that’s still a work in progress. The creation always looks different to the creator.

For us, time is limited. It only moves in one direction. It’s unstoppable, unflappable, untamable. And it’s the one thing we brilliant human beings have yet to find a solution to. How much money do we spend on cosmetics and plastic surgeries, trying to avoid the slow progression of time? How much do we spend on hair coloring products and makeup to paint a picture of ourselves that is younger than what we really are?

Can you imagine what Time must be like for God? For it to mean absolutely nothing? He can look into the future or into the past more easily and more profoundly than we can see the present. Time has no boundary for Him. When He created the world, He knew that 10,000 years later I’d be sitting at my computer in the middle of the Kansas prairie writing a silly blog about Him.

I can’t wrap my mind around that.

If you really think about it, though, all of us are going to live forever. But when our lives really begin, we won’t be in a form that will need anything to do with external appearances. I’m looking forward to that.

Time does move too quickly. May marked the ten-year anniversary of my high school graduation. I can’t believe that. I can’t believe that it’s been ten years since I was in high school, since I was traipsing around the world on crazy mission’s trips and hanging out with a nutty group of people who liked TP-ing and Phillips, Craig & Dean. Ten years. And it feels like it’s been only moments. I can’t imagine 1,000 years, but ten years passed quickly enough.

Time is tricky and since our lives really do revolve around it in a sense, I think it’s easy for humans to become obsessed with it. When we’re young, we want time to pass more quickly so we can be old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to drink, etc. And when we’re older, we would give our right arm for time to slow down.

But when I get stressed out because I don’t have enough time, I just try to remember that God created it, and He gave us all a specific amount for a specific reason. And maybe time may take its toll on me down here, but God still knows what He’s doing. After all, He is the only One who can ever conquer Time. Even the unconquerable Time must bow to its creator, and one day we’ll all be in a place where Time doesn’t mean anything anymore.