December 8-9, 2012
When I was directing a psych unit at our community hospital, one of my responsibilities was to perform psychiatric consultations in other areas of the hospital. One time I was called to the ICU to help determine whether an older man was competent. He wanted to stop all the extraordinary treatment efforts that were keeping him alive, and it seemed death would be only days away if treatment were stopped.
He was hooked up to so many machines, some were keeping him alive … others were taking measurements. There was one machine he watched frequently. When I asked him why, he told me that it was the machine that monitored his heartbeat. I asked innocently what would happen if his heart stopped. The answer I expected was “An electrical shock will trigger my heart to start beating again,” or “Nurses and doctors will come running.” Instead, he said, “There’s a little speaker on the back of the machine and it will say ‘Good-bye.’”
While he was just trying to be funny, his comment affected me. It jolted me into the reality that my life at any time could be over … and that before I knew it, a speaker on the back of some machine would be telling me it’s time to say “Good-bye.”
In Psalm 90:12 Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days right, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Thinking and knowing that our days are truly numbered should help us keep an eternal perspective, which in turn should help us make decisions and choices ranked by eternal values.
Unfortunately, I am often surprised by how much time I invest in the minutiae of this life. I act as if the hours in a week are endless when I engage in some of these activities. Now, please hear me say, we all need some pursuits that are just in-the-moment, not necessarily of eternal importance, activities that refresh and entertain us. But, really look at the number of these activities compared to the most important ones, those that build our relationship with God and each other, especially our spouse and kids. Unfortunately, those side-tracking activities often become as addictive as a drug.
Satan certainly throws many distractions our way and the world system gets us thinking these distractions are more life-sustaining and fulfilling than the activities God wants us to pursue. Once in this trap, you might have to chew off a big part of yourself to save your soul. Our identity, purpose, peace, and joy get sucked out of us while we’re trapped in those patterns.
Today, start keeping a journal or daytimer to document the activities of your day. Put a (+) next to activities that help you engage with God or others in a positive way. Put a (–) if they keep you from engaging with God or others. Begin thinking about those with a (-) as embezzlers, covertly sneaking in to steal days, weeks, and even years from you. Try to remember to use each day for your God as if it were your last … for all too soon the little speaker will say, “Good-bye.” Using your time or wasting your time is your decision, so choose well.
Dear God, I thank You, Father, for this day and every day of life You give me. I know that each day is a gift from You. Help me, Lord, to live with eternity always in view. I know sometimes the activities you have in my schedule seem burdensome or tiring to me. But strengthen me to see them as You do and to take part in them. By following Your will, I will be lifted up, and enjoy peace and fulfillment that are indescribable in a devotional. I pray in the name of the One who gave His every minute for mankind and me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:23-27