Hey, today’s my birthday! Don’t ask . . . I’m trying not to think about how many candles I’ll have on the cake. But it hasn’t always been like that. There was a time when I loved having birthdays. Turning 5 was really big. I couldn’t wait for the birthdays that qualified me to go to high school, get a driver’s license, and become a legal adult! Back then, people who were 35 seemed ancient.
But let’s face it, time marches on. And looking in the mirror, you begin to feel that it’s marching right across your face! The real wake-up call is when you get an invitation in the mail to join the American Association of Retired Persons and to qualify for senior discounts. I hate to sound so grumpy, but to this day I refuse to join the old people’s club or to claim my discounts!
Yet I’ve come to realize that there is something important about having mile markers in life. They force us to stop long enough to measure where we are in life and to assess the true significance of what we are devoting our time and attention to. When I hit the ancient mark of 35, I remember feeling like a kid who had a five-dollar bill and had spent half of it any way he wanted only to realize that he only had $2.50 left. I figured if I only had half of my life left, I wanted to spend it in wise and fruitful ways. I wanted to minimize my regrets and maximize my opportunities. Things of long-term significance like my wife and kids became more important to me. How I used and where I spent my money took on a greater sense of significance. And the work of Christ through me became a more pressing priority.
Thinking about the work of Jesus reminds me that birthdays also help us to keep in mind that year-by-year we are closer to our final destination. One of the wisest things we can do is to remember that the only thing of true value here is what we do for eternity. Using your time, talents, emotions, energy, and cash for the cause of Jesus on this earth will result in rewarding outcomes in heaven.
Imagine stepping onto the other side and realizing that we have brought nothing with us of eternal worth. Think of looking into the face of Jesus and realizing that the only things we have with us are the wood, hay, and straw of earth-side stuff (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). If we don’t let the markers of life remind us of how close heaven is, we may make the mistake of pouring our lives into the bottomless bucket of stuff that doesn’t really make a difference after all.
Thank God for birthdays! They remind us that life is short and that heaven is near. If you take them seriously, you may just stand a chance of making it home with more than an empty bucket.
- Number your days: Make a list of the wisest things you could invest your life in.
- Be specific about what you can do this week with your days to make a difference that has lasting value.
- What resources do you have in this stage of your life that you could put to use in order to minimize your regrets and maximize your opportunities? Who would be the best target for the use of your resources?