There is an old saying about the shortness is life…
Through the centuries, and especially by those who are contemplative, we hear the voices attempting to compare the little time we have against the backdrop of what we hope to accomplish. Philosophers from prior millenniums tell us to consider the shortness of life. It is the voice of the elder trying to speak to the younger. And we still do not get it!
- What goes on past your lifespan? Your good name? Reputation? Deeds? Offspring?
- What do you hope to accomplish while living? Just having a good time? “Go for the gusto…”
- When you reach the end, what are your regrets? “If only…”
Often, we speak of the accomplishments of great people who did something right! Yet, there are billions who lived quiet daily lives and never made a big name for themselves, nor were they the hero in the story. Theirs was the common life. Rise. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
- Of all those who fought and died in wars, foreign and domestic, only a few of you are remembered through the ages for your heroic deeds. How about all of those that survived conflicts and returned home? Some strong, some not.
- Of all those who created the products used daily by this world, we remember a few of you for innovations, but the rest of you fade into history not even worth a footnote in the annals of time.
- Of all those educators who spent countless time preparing to teach in their chosen fields, what can we say about those whom we do not even remember their names or sacrifices?
- Of all the regular mom’s and dad’s who persevered through the heartache of birthing and raising children, some turned out good, and others no so good. Doing your best is often thought not to be good enough.
For those billions, I think that you are the greatest of heroes because you persevered even when there was no limelight of reward. Day in. Day out. You lived your purpose without the spotlight, or riches, or acknowledgment.
There are many favored quotes about life lived, and it’s shortness. But one of my favorite thoughts comes straight from scripture.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14 NKJV)
From Jerusalem, James pens his letter to the 12 tribes of Israel scattered abroad. He is hoping to open their eyes, and I believe it was his focus to make each tribe aware of the shortness of the hour. He speaks of trials that test faith and produces patience that will work to make you complete. And all of that in his opening sentences. Seemingly, and with the voice of a Solomon, James gives them instruction in better living. Go ahead. Read the five chapters and see for yourself.
Why do we continually need the voice of instruction? Because we are easily swayed by the moment. But the true hero is the one that comes back to reason and continues living their life productively. Why? Not because you will remember them, but because it is the thing to do.
A song from my past…and these words keep me thinking about my purpose in life. You know… That short life…
The days pass so swiftly, The months come and go.
The years melts away, Like new falling snow.
Spring turns to summer, Then summer to fall,
Autumn bring winter, Then death comes to all.
Only one life, So soon it will pass.
Only what’s done for Christ will last
Only one chance to do His will
So give to Jesus all your days
It’s the only life that pays
When you recall, You have but one life.
~Lanny Wolfe, 1973