By Elizabeth Prata
It took me a long time to set up that shot. As the water was heating in the teapot, I got my camera and turned it on. I set the scene to Micro on the dial. I pre-loaded the zoom. I set the camera down nearby and poured the tea. I quickly grabbed my camera and posed the shot. Already the steam was dissipating! It goes so fast!
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14).
I had my mid-life crisis early, at age 30. I had been abandoned by my adulterous husband of just a few years. I was starting out as teacher but also working two other jobs in order to keep our house, now my house. The mortgage was a millstone around my neck. I had zero time off, and if I had a few hours, I had to maintain the house, mow the lawn or clean etc. I looked around me and thought, is this all there is? Work to pay for a house I can’t even enjoy? I wasn’t saved then and I launched myself on what I call the Ecclesiastes portion of my life.
I feared death.
I feared not having accomplished anything by the time I’d died. I feared the Great Beyond. I feared that there was really no point to life, that we’re simply as the secular world insisted, a bundle of cells that grow, live, then poof, pass away, signifying nothing.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Then I was saved and death and eternity no longer posed a problem, a puzzle, or a fear. I welcome it! I am joyous to finally ‘know’, thanks to the grace of God who gives me the Spirit, who illuminates my mind to the reality of Jesus.
However now that I ‘know’, I read the Bible. In it, James reminds us that our life is a vapor. Now, our life should signify everything, that is, Christ. Our lives take on more meaning than my unsaved mind could ever have known. Legacies pass away, family trees rot. Achievements pale. But for the woman in Christ, our lives are supposed to take on more eternal significance than ever, because we serve Jesus.
I turn 60 years old today. All my life elderly people have told me that life happens fast. That it goes by in the blink of an eye. I know this to be true, but now that I’m actually experiencing it, the rapidity with which life flashes by astounds me.
The other day at school, my second graders were asking me about the olden days. Relating memories I have of when I was their age, I became startled to think that these memories are over fifty years old, or half a century! Where did the time go? How is it that I have memories and life experiences comprising bundles of decades?!
Once I had become a child of eternal grace instead of a child of wrath, I lost my fear of the future. I can rest easy in the cradle of the arms of Jesus, knowing my future is secure and whatever He has planned for me on this earth or in heaven, it will be good. My only concern now is that I comport myself in ways that glorify His name, that make His name known, that share the Good News of His Gospel. The days that pass now lead me not to some dim and uncertain dark future, but to one of glory, light, and rest.
Sisters, it really does go by fast. If you’re single and not loving it, wait, the time will come when you will be married and looking back wistfully upon your carefree days. If you’re a young mom, hang on to the precious moments with toddler, before you know it he will be driving a car and nosing past your curfew. If you’re in chronic pain or suffer a debilitating disease, rest easy knowing this too shall pass, and sooner than we all think.
Did you know that when you look up “flower” in the Bible, rather than extolling its beauty, most of the verses tell how the flower fades, dies, and goes away? Like this one from Psalm 103:14-15,
As for man, his days are like grass;
Like a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place no longer knows about it.
I marvel at the time, I am amazed at how Jesus put my life together. I am delighting in His promises for my and our future. I am looking forward to the future He has laid out for me, whether the number of my days is nearing its end or whether they will continue for a few more decades.
I am most glad that though I have an important decade birthday to celebrate, I am more interested in celebrating my Savior’s birthday in a few days. He parted the veil and entered the world in flesh as a baby. On December 25 we remember that momentous occasion. His life, death, and resurrection gives us an eternity where our ‘days’ will pass in peace and joy- with Him. And that is the best birthday gift of all.