I do not think we really realize the blessing each day is to us. The Bible tells us in Job 14:5 “Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.” We have a time stamp on the longevity of our lives. We, in and of ourselves, cannot surpass this time. We cannot wake up one morning and say, “I will live to be such and such an age” because it is not up to us when life will end. Just as God knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb (see Jeremiah 1:5), He also knew when our appointed time would be. It is out of our control as to when that appointed time is; however, it is not out of our control as to whether we will live until that appointed time.
How long? How long do you have or will you have? How many days have you already shortened your life? Each day we either strive to reach our ‘appointed time’ or we do something to ‘shorten’ our days. We do this through actions, through things we put in our body, through our relationship with Christ, through decisions we make, and through our manner of life. How many days have you already deprived yourself of? This question is what I struggled with last night.
I am sure all of you have heard me say I will live to be 110. I am not sure where this came from but I have held on to it since the thought occurred. It started out as a sort of joke I enjoyed sharing but today it is a goal. I want to live to be 110! Many ask why? Why would anyone want to live that long? My answer ... I want every day the Lord blesses me with. As long as I can tend to myself and not be a burden to others, I want to live. As long as I can be a blessing and win hearts for Christ, I want to live. I want to see my children grown ... sadly this is just about done! I want to see my grandchildren and their children thrive in life. What can I say except that I am a life-hog! I want every day God desires to give me.
Sounds pretty good, huh? Then I have to ask myself, “If you truly want to live to be 110, then why are you sitting here putting into your body that which you know is not good for you?” Enjoyable yes but not good for your body if ingested more times than it should be. Yes, I know I said we had no control over reaching our appointed time, but we do have control over whether ‘we will reach our appointed time’. We can deprive ourselves of life expectancy by our carelessness of life and our abuse of our bodies. We destroy ourselves by our choices in life.
When I look back, I become very sad to realize how many days I have already taken from my life. How many days I have deprived myself of seeing my grandchildren ... my great-grandchildren ... and watching them grow. I have already shortened my days more than I care to admit. Going forward, do I keep shortening them or do I strive now to be the best me I can be so I can reach the lesser appointed time ... lesser being the days I have taken from myself thus far? I do not know about you, but I want to LIVE so I need to make life choices that help me strive towards that end.
If you want to be a doctor ... a lawyer ... a teacher ... no matter what your life dream is, you have to study and do things you do not necessarily desire to do in order to achieve your dreams. You do not want to go to college when you could be doing other things that are more desirable right now ... you do not want to study for hours on end to pass tests you feel are not necessary ... you do not want to miss out on a party this weekend because you have a paper to write. However, if you want to be the best at what you desire to be, you have to give up now so you can reap rewards later.
Isn’t this the same with the days of our lives? If we truly want to live to our appointed time and not shorten our days, do we not have to make choices today to do what is required of us and not always what we want to do? We cannot expect something for nothing. Everything comes at a cost but how much you pay is up to you. Will you sleep in that extra hour though you have had adequate sleep or will you get up and go to the gym? Will you choose to grab that piece of fruit over that bowl of ice cream? Will you only have a drink here or there or will you party hardy and worry about it later? Will you smoke that cigarette knowing it is killing you or will you bite the bullet, walk the plank, and overcome so you can have those days you claim you want?
Some may be saying, “If living a life with no joy means gaining a day or so, then it is not worth it!” I agree! It is not so much as living without joy as it is setting boundaries and not using the ‘days without joy’ as an excuse to over indulge. God wants us to have life and to have it in abundance. He wants us to ‘enjoy’ every day here on this earth. Each day from Him is a blessing but whether we allow Him to bless us is up to us and not Him. Our appointed time is a gift which He is holding out to us but if we do not take it then we cannot blame Him.
How many times in life have we blamed God for the cancer that took our loved one ... blamed God because we lost someone in an accident ... blamed God because of the condition of our bodies ... blamed God for anything that brought pain (physical or emotional) or shortened our days ... blamed God for marrying the wrong person ... blamed God for pain we endured at the hands of ourselves or others? I have blamed God more times than I care to remember. I have blamed Him for things I did which brought bad consequences. I have blamed Him for things my loved ones did that brought them pain and suffering. The way the world is today ... filled with sickness and disease ... filled with sin in abundance ... this is what we need to blame for our pain and suffering. The world is not as He desired it to be.
Divorced? Not God’s fault. In poor health? Not God’s fault. Lost a loved one for whatever reason? Not God’s fault. Yes these circumstances could have been the ‘appointed’ time, but it was not God’s design to bring you to your appointed time with all of this suffering. When He created the earth it was a beauty to behold and it was disease free ... sin free. When God created man, it was not with the intent for man to live in sin as we do today. It was not meant for our flesh to rule over us. We were to be in control! Yet we are not! We may think we are, but we are not in control. Our life was not meant to be shortened. It was meant for us to live each day in heavenly bliss until our appointed time arrived. We ... not God ... deprived ourselves of this blessing. We may not have done this directly but it was done for us indirectly. We just continue to do the same.
I can hear you saying, “I did not have any control over what Adam and Eve did. Why am I paying the price for their lack in judgment?” You are so right! We were not the cause of Adam and Eve falling any more than we were the cause of being raised with wrong attitudes ... being raised in poverty ... being raised through circumstances beyond our control which effect our every being ... but we are the cause of us falling. Adam and Eve are not here today putting that abundance of sin in our bodies. They are not here causing us to make poor choices or enticing us to do the things we do which shorten our days. Through the fall of man, we allowed sin to enter this world. We now struggle with the desires of the flesh but we do not have to lose the battle. I more than know it is difficult to always do what is right. It is not a way of leisure to overcome addictions. It is not always enjoyable to choose that healthy food over the junk food. Life is not easy but it can be easier ... the choice is yours.
People, we all mess up. Heck, I am writing this today with true purpose of heart but tomorrow I may be eating that bowl of ice cream again. I am not trying to put us on pedestals because we cannot remain there. By our own choices, we will fall. It is going to happen! To think otherwise is setting yourself up for failure. We will make poor choices but we do not have to continually live a lifestyle of poor choices. And, if we do, then we need to accept the poor health ... the overweight ... the illnesses. If we give in to sin, then there are consequences for it. No way around it. Speeding causes accidents! Anger causes turmoil! Overindulging causes overweight! A partying lifestyle causes ... well it causes a multitude of issues and problems, both for us and those around us. I know because I have experienced them all firsthand. I have learned the hard way that it is not always about me. I have left more scars on others than I care to admit. I have not always set an example the way I should have. I have sinned repeatedly in life. I will sin again but I do not have to sin as a way of life ... as an excuse to do what I want to do and not what I need to do.
I know of an individual who is always complaining about their children. They cannot understand why their children do this or that. They do not understand why their children are raising their children as they are. They do not understand why their children are not setting better examples for their children. They do not understand how their child grew into an addict ... is obese ... is abusive! They do not understand ... it goes on and on and on! I get so tired of hearing this person complain. I hate it when they call though I talk with them because I do care. How do you tell a person that their children are only repeating what they were taught ... their children are only raising their children as they were raised ... their children are only behaving in a manner that they were taught was acceptable? We cannot set before our children a lifestyle of partying and drinking, and then not take partial blame when our children grow up being an alcoholic ... a drug addict ... things they were led to do through behavior they were taught was the norm. We cannot complain about our children being obese when we raised them on junk food and poor eating choices. I do realize that when we reach a certain age then we need to alter our way of thinking and do what we know to be right. This is not always easy. When you are raised for 20+ years being taught the wrong way, then it is very DIFFICULT to alter the course of your life and do it the right way. Difficult yes, but not impossible. Some have the strength to overcome and be successful ... others not so much!
Now before anyone goes off and starts calling me names such as “Ms. Snooty” ... “Ms. Goodie-2-Shoes” ... “Ms. My-Life-Is-Perfect” ... I am sure I left a few out but I think you are nodding your head in agreement about now, let me reassure you that I am none of those things! Before you conclude I am judging others when I should be looking in the mirror, you are right! The only thing you are wrong about is assuming I have not already looked in the mirror! I looked in that mirror a long time ago. I look in that mirror again and again ... every single day! I took responsibility a long time ago for the poor choices I made (and continue to make). I took responsibility a long time ago for the wrong examples I set for my children. I took responsibility a long time ago for the lifestyle I led which brought pain and suffering to those I loved. I know what I have done! I also know that I strive each and every day to correct those wrongs ... I strive each and every day to do what is right today though I did not always do what is right ... I strive each and every day to point out to my loved ones the mistakes I made in the hopes to redirect their paths ... I asked for their forgiveness and for God’s forgiveness. I strive every day though I still fail more times than I care to admit. When I fail, when I finally am willing to accept that I am failing, I brush myself off and start again and again and again ... today is another ‘again’ for me. Always remember that failure is not in doing and being unsuccessful ... failing is in not doing at all! Sometimes we have to continue to fail in order to succeed. What will you do today ... fail or not try at all? I think I will ‘try’ to fail ... how about you?
We all have many struggles in life. We all have luggage we carry around which becomes heavier by the day. We all are paying the price for sins of others. We all have scars caused by others. We all have pain brought on by circumstances beyond our control. We do not always have choices we would want to have, but we all have choices. What choice will you ... will I ... make today? Will we shorten our days and not see the longevity of our appointed time, or will we thrive to be the best and hopefully see as many days as the Lord desired to bless us with?
Let’s vow today ... together ... to make this the 1st day of the rest of our lives! Are you in? “Try” is something we all can do! God bless you!