I have never met a person who at the end of their life said, “I sure wish I had not wasted my life by spending so much time with my family.” Sadly, when I speak with people the antithesis is always voiced. With regret in their voices I hear phrases like,
- “I’ve spent my entire life focusing on my work. Now that work is gone so is my family.”
- “I’ve neglected my wife and children all these years.”
- “We never did make time for that family vacation.”
- “I was always too busy to tell my parents just how much I loved them, now it’s too late.”
- “Life was hectic. I never took the time to stop and talk with my children. Now they won’t talk to me.”
Tempus Fugit. In Latin it means, time flies. Oh, how true it is. Just yesterday I was holding my beloved’s hand and saying, “I do and I will till death do us part.” Now, nearly 18 years and three children later I ask myself, where has the time gone? It seems as though just yesterday I was holding my first born in my arms, singing sweet songs, and rocking him to sleep. Now, 14 years later and towering at 6 feet tall, he could rock me. Where did the time go? Just yesterday I was opening that first box of homeschool books as we began our journey to home educate our children. Now, the path is well worn and I’m looking back over years of discipleship with my children. There are just a few years left. Again, where has the time gone? And I know in my heart that years from now I will be looking back at even this season in my life and asking the all too familiar question of where did the time go?
The Lord answers our question. In Psalms we are told why time files so quickly. “My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass,” Psalm 102:11. Life is short. Therefore, I should be as the Psalmist and “remember how short my time is,”(Psalm 89:47). In the book of James we are reminded again just how short life is. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, (James 4:14).
When my children were younger, I would teach them during science about the three stages of water – liquid, solid, and gas. We would put a cup of water in the freezer so it could freeze then we would put a cup of water on the stove to watch it evaporate. As we watched the steam rise one reoccurring thought was that it vanishes so quickly. And while that is true, when steam (vapour) is channeled properly it can be put to great work. Consider the steam engine. Steam engines were the first widespread engine type to be used. They were the foundation of the industrial revolution. They powered all early locomotives, steam boats, and factories. Even today we see that steam is one of the most widely used commodities for conveying heat energy. Because water is plentiful and inexpensive, steam is efficient and economic to generate.
Now consider this. Our lives are but a vapor. They appear for a little while and then vanish away. Therefore, our lives can be wasted and allowed to drift aimlessly like a vapor in the air until they are gone or, if allowed to, they can be channeled properly by the Holy Spirit and accomplish great things for God while here on earth.
So, in reply to tempus fugit I will say to the Lord as the Psalmist did to, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” Psalm 90:12. In answer to the question of where time has gone, I will say that it’s gone to afternoons of walking hand in hand with my husband. It’s gone to playing a board game with my children. It’s gone to holding my children on my lap and reading story after story. It’s gone to baking cookies with my daughter to take to a lonely widow. It’s gone to hours and hours of teaching my children math, science, and history. It’s gone to daily Bible instruction as we all learn together the ways of God more perfectly. It’s gone to smiling, laughing, and giggling with my family. It’s gone to singing old hymns around the piano. And so much more.
But, time has also been given to days of sadness, frustration, anger, and worry. Time has gone to fighting and an unforgiving heart. Time has been wasted on frivolous actions that will never matter in eternity. Time has been given over to selfishness more times than I care to count. Time has been wasted. Life is short and we cannot afford to waste our life. Lord, help me to invest my life in those things that are eternal, like my relationship with You and with others. Help me to apply my heart to wisdom and teach me to number my days.