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‘I will ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day’


My birth month is here again even though it seems like only yesterday it occurred last. What a change! When I was 5, I used to ask my mom regularly if I would ever turn 6. I know that my days are numbered and that I am past the three score and 10 years allotted man in the Bible. I am renewing my commitment to devote every day to using my talents to serve God.
I once wondered aloud why a year seemed so short now compared to the way it felt when I was young. A friend observed that when a person is 10, a year is one-tenth of his time and experience. When a person is 50, a year is only one-fiftieth of his time and experience. Hmm?
Time is relative. When I am listening to a really good sermon or reading a book with wise insights, I am not conscious of time. When I am on plane sitting on the runway waiting for our gate to be free, or waiting at one of those obnoxiously long traffic lights, time drags.
When Joyce and I first married, our evening meal would often take several hours as we talked about the events of the day, studied the Bible or the ideas of some research I was doing. An evening would be gone, and we still had lots of work we had to complete before we could sleep. We have always wanted to do everything together. I have survived many long football games to be with her. She has endured many long fantasy movies with me.
The prospect of a birthday always starts me thinking about my life.
When I was 10, I could never imagine what my life has been. My greatest wish was for World War II to end so that fear would not hang over us. Then the prospect of an atomic cloud hung over the next few years of my life.
I knew about God and sensed his reality early, but I never thought about God and church in the same frame. God was there from my earliest thoughts, but I could never anticipate that the church and God would be such momentous aspects of all my adult life.
From my earliest memories, the stories of my mother and my uncle Blantie shaped my thinking and led naturally to my career in writing and literary studies.
Time marches on even when we would like to make it stand still. It marches on even when we want it to speed up. Now a year passes faster than a single day of my solitary childhood. I have long complained about humanity’s preoccupation with time. We are all like a passenger in a taxi with the meter running in a traffic jam. We are on the time-clock even when we are supposed to be having fun with our children or our parents. If Henry David Thoreau thought the people of his day lived “lives of quiet desperation,” the people of our day – with our frantic schedules and multitasking – would leave him speechless.
Yet I may be the worst time-junkie around. I have read the scores of books on time management, efficiency, and meaningful leisure. This spring, my good friend Bart Rybinski preached a sermon on simplifying life. I loved it and bought CDs of it for all my children, who smiled indulgently and went on. I can still remember every wonderful point of the lesson, but I have not yet put even one of his suggestions into practice. I am too busy. I have made too many commitments.
God created time, but God is outside of time. A day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is like a day, to God. I am in time, and an hour is like a minute or a day depending on what I am doing
As I think about another year of life, I have many projects I want to complete, but I am going to try to weigh those projects on God’s scales so that I have clearer priorities that are weighted by God’s business. I want to make relationships more important in my thinking, in my use of time and in my prayers. I know I can’t have a “do over” with any part of my life, but hopefully, I can take a fresh approach to what I do and how I relate to people.
Carpe diem is going to be the theme of every day, and I want to not only make the most of every moment, but I also want to relish every minute, every idea, every contact with others, and all opportunities to let God transform my life into a vessel of holy service.
I pray that I can say to God as David did, “I will ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day” (Psalms 61:8).

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