This past year was one of funerals for me—of goodbyes and I-can’t-believe-they’re-gone, catch your breath moments. Each death, with the surrounding sorrows and services, was unique. But as I head into 2014, I’ve been changed by a collective challenge I received from those earthly races now finished. Each funeral was a witness to a meaningful meeting between earth and heaven and how the two are forever intertwined.
Pondering eternity sheds a clearer light on goals, actions, thoughts, hours—even minutes. Like me, you may be thinking through how to best invest in this new year of grace in light of forever.
As I walk into this new year, I find myself wondering, What would my friends and family say about me if I were to die in 2014? Will a single-hearted devotion to God be evident, a sweet madness for Jesus? Does my closest community feel loved and listened to, cared for, and served well? Are there those outside of Christ today who will be loved into His kingdom because God helped me to "do good and share what I have" (Heb. 13:6)?
And so this month I’m examining my schedule, asking, Where do I need to change in order to live for Christ, His people, and His kingdom work in more eternally significant ways? I’m pondering my lifetime goals and from them forming three measurable short-term goals to be completed by June 1, 2014. I want this year to count! Dare I share them with you? If you know them, you might ask me how I’m doing. That’s scary—but really helpful. So here they are.
In light of eternity, I want 2014 to be a year of going deeper with Christ.
I want to know Him better, love Him with greater joy and passion, feel His nearness in my day-to-day life. I’m purposefully lengthening my daily times with Him—spending more time in His Word, lingering over passages that draw me in, choosing verses to meditate on or memorize. I’m asking God to strengthen me as I commit to expand my time with Him to a minimum of one hour each day. I’ve found a good spot in my home to meet with Him. I’m setting a timer in another room, walking away from my computer and phone, lighting a candle, fixing a cup of tea, and sitting down with my Bible and notebook to drink deeply "from his river of delights" (Ps. 36:8).
In light of eternity, I want to give myself more to my immediate community of ten grandchildren.
They live so far away, it hurts. How can I express my love for them and leave a legacy of warm, God-centered connections "that the next generation might know" (Ps. 78:6a)? I’m committing to write one personal note per week, handwritten, with a slice of gum or some stickers or a fun worksheet to color. Something from their Mayme that says, "You are special to me. I think about you a lot. I love you deeply. I am praying for you every day."
In light of eternity, I want to give myself more to the cause of Christ in the world.
Why did God create me and put me in this part of the world at this time of history? I believe God is calling me to "tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders he has done" (Ps. 78:4). So I have committed myself to a personal writing project, with measurable goals, to be completed by August 1, 2014.
Moses knows first-hand how brief this life is. He was surrounded by funerals as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness. Scholars have estimated that an average of forty people died each day of the forty years they wandered in the wilderness. How did he do it? What was Moses’ prayer in the midst of all that sorrow? "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12).
My days are numbered—so are yours. By living in that reality, God will help us to obey this command: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time" (Eph. 5:15–16).
I need this reminder—daily.
- What is the best use of my time?
- How can I walk in wisdom today?
- How do I live in a way that shows I believe that my days are numbered?
These past few months have taught me that soon, very soon, my earthly race will be over. How can I go deeper with God, give myself more devotedly to His children, and serve His cause in the world today? I want every day in 2014 to count for eternity. How about you?