“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” — James 4:13-14
Experts estimate that if a normal cassette tape is played about 100 times a year, sound quality will deteriorate somewhat after about 10 years. But the tape itself will play on. A lightning bolt lasts 45 to 55 microseconds. The average running shoe worn by the average runner on an average surface wills last 350 to 500 miles. A hard pencil can write up to 30,000 words or draw a line more than 30 miles long. Most ball-point pens will draw a line 4,000 to 7,500 feet long.
A group of subatomic particles known as unstable hadrons exists for only one one-hundred-sextillionth of a second (10 to the negative 23 second)–less time than it takes light to travel a single inch. A 100-watt incandescent bulb will last about 750 hours; a 25-watt bulb, 2,500 hours. The number of times a light bulb is turned on and off has little to do with its life-span.
The projected life-span of a baby born in the U.S. today is about 71 years, nearly double what it was at the end of the 18th century. The longest modern, authenticated life-span of a human being is 113 years, 214 days. Studies show married people live longer than those who remain single.
We can fill our minds and our lives with factoids concerning life-spans, but we are paralyzed when faced with the brevity of life. Often, we are reminded by the unexpected. Tragedy sucks the wind out of us and we are once again confronted with our mortality.
James warned the early church not to take life and God for granted. We can become so focused on “making a living” that we miss real life. We can become so busy that we miss God. We can become so driven that we miss both!
All of us live within the framework of a 24-hour day. How we approach that time can make a huge difference. We can waste time, kill time, spend time or invest our time. What are the things that really matter? Our relationship with God will matter for all eternity. Our relationship with our family and friends can extend our influence (whether good or bad) for several generations. Fame, material wealth and social status end with the grave…usually.
I don’t want to be guilty of giving my first-rate efforts to third-rate causes. I want my life to count for something bigger than I am. I don’t want to waste the time that God has graciously given me. How about you?
The span of life quickly comes to an end. How will yours be described? “Only one life, and soon it is past. Only what’s done for Jesus will last.” Live well! Live right!