Yesterday was a convergence of reality and the random iPod shuffle. As I contemplated the thirty-third birthday (yikes) of my first born a song fired up from Kenny Chesney. In the lyric an interviewer asks a man celebrating his one hundred and second birthday about his secret to life. His response?
The lyrics go on to describe just how quickly this earthly journey goes by.
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed.
Wow. I am right there. I’m still a ways from the century mark though my shoulder feels that old this morning. It seems like just yesterday that I was playing sandlot baseball as a kid. Moments ago I was in high school being Attention Deficit before ADD was cool. Just yesterday I met the stunning Joni Banks and somehow conned her into dating me. Couldn’t have been too long ago that I donned the hideous baby blue tux to wed my beloved. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that three adorable baby boys came into our lives? How is it possible that I am now directing the baseball exploits of athletes that were not close to being born when I started this gig?
The best line on parenting I have heard is that the days are long but the years are short. Amen. I now am the father of a 33 year old, a 30 year old, and a 25 year old. When did that happen? Married 35 years. Are you kidding me?
I have had, if I may borrow the franchise of Frank Capra, a wonderful life. Not devoid of tragedy and trouble to be sure. I have lost a very dear nephew to leukemia, a daughter to terminal birth defects, my father and mother and many other family members and friends. My bride has battled breast cancer but, thankfully, is doing well. Through it all we feel blessed beyond comprehension. I believe that is because we have found our reason for being here. Pastor and author Rick Warren summed it up nicely in a recent interview.
People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond, In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body – but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillion of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life: The goal is to grow in character, In Christ-likeness.
If this is the warm-up act for my eternity gig on the main stage then all of this is merely preparation. Football players hate the two-a-day practices in the brutal heat. But they love the exhilaration of victory that the difficult preparation allows for later in the season. Sometimes the two-a-days of life seem cruel and without purpose. But my understanding of the God who made me and His purpose for me allows me to believe there is purpose and design. I don’t always see it. I love being happy and carefree. But if my purpose is preparation for my real gig then I had better be a little more interested in living out of my new identity and trusting God for maturing me in Christ-likeness. Paul wrote this in the book of Colossians.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Col 3, NLT)
The song continues…
I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said
“Best start putting first things first.”
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can’t flip it over and start again
Take every breath God gives you for what it’s worth
The songwriter is correct. We have a pre-determined number of grains in the hourglass so I choose today to live in the moment in grace and freedom. Every breath is a gift even on the tough days. Enjoy today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised.
In no time at all on the eternity clock I will be reunited with my daughter in heaven and other loved ones. I will be with my Lord and Savior. I will be home. For my fellow sojourners I pray that you will trust that truth. You may face storms and deep valleys along the way. My secret to life is to trust a God who is trustworthy. And one more thing.