My time is shorter than I thought, much shorter

Graffiti at the flak tower, a relict of the second world war, at the Augarten in ViennaRead John 7:32-36.

After some in the crowd believed what Jesus said about himself, that he was the Messiah, the Pharisees heard about it, and they sent officers to arrest Jesus. Then Jesus said, “I’ll be with you a little longer, and then I’m going to him who sent me. You’ll seek me but you won’t find me. Where I am, you can’t come.” The crowd said to one another, “Where is he going that we can’t find him? Is he leaving us to go teach the Jews who live among the Greeks? And what does he mean by saying, “You’ll seek me but you won’t find me,”? And what does he mean by saying, “Where I am you can’t come”?

If you follow this blog you know that my mom (in-law) died a few weeks ago. Kathy and I were at the funeral last week, in Chicago. Not long before mom died, one of my cousins died. Within days after mom’s funeral, another cousin died: the brother of the cousin who died before mom died. Not only that but a couple who are friends of Kathy and mine almost died. They were on an airline flight that was ordered to circle the airport due to microbursts on the runway. Two planes before them had to abort landings. This wasn’t your typical turbulence story though. It was so bad that during their descent the flight attendant couldn’t compose herself enough to speak over the intercom. Everyone on board was screaming and crying. The couple who we’re friends with said, “I love you,” to each other and they prayed together. They prayed the kind of prayer you pray when you’re thinking, “This is it.” They told God it was okay if they died but they asked that he please let them go to heaven. The pilot managed to get the plane on the ground, and when he did everyone wiped their tears and cheered.

When the crowd thought Jesus was talking about leaving to teach those Jews who lived out among the Greeks, of course they were wrong. Jesus was talking about dying (and resurrecting, and ascending too). Jesus’ time to finish the work God put him on earth to accomplish was short. A lot of good Bible teachers also say that Jesus is making a point to those who don’t believe in him that where he will wind up, they “cannot come.”

All this dying and nearly dying that I’ve been exposed to recently has inspired me to do some math. And I’ve come to realize something: the time I have left on earth is short, much shorter than I thought. To figure out how much time I have left, I used to subtract my age from whatever came up on one of those life span calculator websites. But after observing the passing of these loved ones I now realize it doesn’t make sense to do the math that way. It’s common for our capacity to function, to decline sharply somewhere in our early seventies. Scholars think this is about how old David was when he could no longer function as king of Israel. (1 Kings 1) So seventy-ish, that’s a more realistic end for the timeline in which I can finish the work God put me on earth to accomplish. But then I did some more digging, and I realized that almost half of whatever time I have left I’ll spend on sleep and hygiene and driving.

The time I have left went from short, to shorter. Much shorter.

The time you have left is probably shorter than you realize too. So with that in mind, can I give you my best advice? If you plan on doing anything for Jesus, to express your love for him, to bless him: Don’t wait. Start doing it now.

I pray He will send me His Holy Spirit to help me bless Him, and please Him, and make Him smile as many times as possible from now until I’m no longer capable.

I hope you’ll pray that prayer too.

Because life is shorter than we think. For,

“All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

and the flower falls,”

1 Peter 1:24

[Life Is Short image via Manfred Werner – Wikimedia Commons]


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