Time Marking: From Istanbul to the Super Bowl
What. A. Year.
I am slam dunking 2017 as a year fully lived. With ups and downs, failures and successes, death and debt, new ventures attempted and new lands traveled, this past year has been one of the fullest I can remember. And sitting on the precipice of being 50, I can remember a lot of years. Actually, I forget more than I remember, now where was I..
This past year I went to Istanbul with some friends to discover opportunities for partnership. Also this year, after many years of absence, my fantasy football team made it to the Super Bowl (where the Thunder Ducks promptly put up an anemic performance and went down in flames).
I know that our year-keeping is artificial. These 365 days are merely constructs. It's important for us to label things so that we can grasp them. And yet, time... Time is fluid. It's uncontrollable. It stops for no one and in spite of man's attempts to prolong his life, we cannot through exercise, diet, hygiene or any other thing extend our lives one second beyond our ordained end.
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12.25-26)
"Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass." (Job 14.5)
"In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (Psalm 139.16)
Yet, year-keeping is important for us. It does teach us to "number our days" well. (Psalm 90.12) When we experience the passing of days, months and years, we are reminded of our fragility.
In these past 365 days, I've experienced so much. It's truly incredible. I'm learning to communicate better, to be gracious, be joyful and assume the best. I'm growing. It's a humbling position to be in - to realize you've lived almost 50 years and have never encountered life and love the in some ways. 2017 was FULL. It included a trip to Atlanta for the 20th Passion, a renovation project and new space for our church, our 25th wedding anniversary, a trip to Istanbul, and Adelyn heading to college.
While those are each fairly significant events (and I'm sure you have your own), it is in the dailyness of a year where life is really lived. Relationships, serving, reading, paying bills, disciplining kids (or cats) and coffee (hopefully LOTS of coffee) are where our character is not only revealed but tested.
That's why it's important for us to mark our days - to distinguish one 24-hour period from the exact same period the next day with a countdown ball, fanfare and diet cream soda. We need to know we aren't just staying still. We need to know that things change. That there is movement to real life.
Running and teeth brushing
I try to run every other day. Normally it's only about 2.5 miles at a time. I have disciplined myself to do so ever since taking a trip to Montenegro. It doesn't seem like much, but the RunKeeper app tells me that I ran 442 miles last year. That's further than Nashville!
The point is that a small investment, made regularly, adds up. That includes our days. If we refuse to brush our teeth each day, it won't take long before that will "add up" with a hefty dental bill. It's such a small thing to brush your teeth.
Make small, regular investments into LIFE
I want to encourage you (and myself) this year - make small, regular investments into LIFE. I'd encourage you to read your Bible daily. [Try this plan!] You'll be delighted to discover your attitude and perspective changing through this investment into your relationship with God.
In addition to reading the Bible, find other ways to make small, regular investments in your spiritual life.
Time will pass. Days will be marked. January will be April before you know it. And 2018 will be 2020. And hindsight is always 2020, according to thegreat theologian Randy Travis. He also said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Don't let good intentions swallow your practical implementation. A week will pass before you DO anything if you don't begin to DO it today.
"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well." (Margaret Thatcher)
Sit down today and make your plan for simple, small, daily investments. It's only in looking back that we realize how much we've experienced. Five years ago, I never dreamed I'd walk the streets of Istanbul (or Ephesus for that matter!). There are some things you can't plan for. But by making small, regular investments, you can be ready for what's next. It's the dailyness of investing in what matters that prepares you for days ahead, with perspective, grace and faith.