A couple weeks ago I was flying on a small plane from Clovis, New Mexico to Dallas, Texas. There were only 8 seats on the plane, and 7 of them were in use. Next to me were two men who had known each other for years. One had served as a judge, the other had served in the New Mexico legislature.
They talked for the entire 90 minute flight, obviously their paths had crossed many times, and they knew many of the same friends. They shared some hilarious stories, too, as well as several tales involving overseas business adventures.
Toward the end of the flight, one of the men asked the other about the health of a mutual friend. The man replied that he had died. “In fact,” he said, “when I graduated from college, my mom had a big celebration for me and 12 friends. 8 of them [including this one gentlemen about whom they were discussing] are gone today. I just turned 75 — we were all about the same age — and 8 of them are gone. One was in an accident, one had developed cancer, one had…” Both men were somber, and oddly silent, for the next several moments.
The brevity of life is sobering. These two men are in the twilight of their lives, and facing the certainty of their own deaths was a reality neither of them wanted to spend much time contemplating. When I turned 40, I wrote a blog about being half-way dead, realizing that, statistically, I am entering the last half of my life. It’s sobering to think about life’s end, and to consider the direction you’re on, the life you’ve lived, and the life you would like to live in the time that’s remaining.
In fact, if we’re keeping it real on this blog, all of us are on the downhill side of our lives! From the day you’re born, your clock is ticking backwards. God knows the exact moment you will cross from this life into the next, but one thing we all know: life is brief. James compares our lives to a vapor, here for just a moment and then gone.
While shortness of life could be a bit depressing, I find a sense of urgency and purpose that comes with such knowledge. God has given each of us so much opportunity to spread a Gospel influence in the world around us, and the fact that our time is limited, should inspire us to pursue the things that matter most.
After listening to those men on the plane, I spent a little time reflecting on my current investments. Am I spreading a Gospel influence in the areas where God has given me a voice? Am I investing in my marriage? my kids? my work with Overboard, church and Starwood Ranch with eternity in mind?
When we landed in the corporate terminal of the little airline we were flying, I introduced myself to one of the men. I found out he was a believer, and through a common friend we had, I learned that he is active in the community of faith. He and his wife have a great Gospel influence in the community where they live. From what I gather, he has made many eternal investments in this life.
What about you? Are you investing your life in the things that matter? If you are, you’ll probably find that you are investing heavily in people! Even those who give themselves to a cause or organization, if they are truly investing in eternal matters, are really giving themselves to the people of that cause or organization. In fact, the people I know who put the organization, business, ministry or cause above the people it serves or works with, are some of the most dissatisfied, hard to work with, people I know.
Life is a gift. It’s a short gift, but it is still a very precious gift. Use your gift wisely so that when you approach the end of your years, you’ll do so with joyful expectation, not dreadful silence.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life — and death! — is better on the water!