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Seize the Day! | Worship


Last updated 1/6/2021 at 2:23pm

The turning of the calendar at New Year’s makes one more keenly aware of the passage of time. It is a sobering and yet helpful reminder – because we don’t always think about it. We talk about the relentless march of time – but actually time doesn’t so much “march” as it sneaks up on us. It passes by so quickly we are not even aware of it: “Where did the time go?” is a frequent lament. The evangelist Billy Graham was once asked in his later years what surprised him the most about life: “To me,” he said, “the greatest surprise is just how short life really is.”

The brevity of life is a familiar theme in the Bible. "What is your life?” asks James, "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” “You have made my days a mere handbreadth,” says David to the Lord, “the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”

Randy Pausch was a popular computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. That news would be devastating for anyone, but even more so for a father of three young children. Pausch faced his inevitable early death with such incredible resolve and optimism. He gave a “last lecture” to his colleagues and students and to all of us – it was viewed on the internet and ready by hundreds of thousands in its book form. He reminded us that none of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. As he pointed out, “Many people have given last speeches without realizing it,” citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s awe-inspiring speech in Memphis the night before he was assassinated.

Given the brevity of life, Randy Pausch told us to live life – carpe diem – “seize the day” – which is exactly what he did. Rather than crawl into a hole and feel sorry for himself and lament what he couldn’t change, he decided to make every moment count – and inspired a lot of other people along the way.

We may not like to think about life’s brevity, but it foolish not to. Psalm 90 in the Bible counsels us “to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” If we know our days are numbered, we will make the most of every day God has given us. We will concentrate on what matters most. Now is the time to focus on things that matter – getting right with God and with those around us. Now is the time to smell the flowers along the way. Who knows, we may not have tomorrow.

Some anonymous wise soul counseled: “Be easy with life. For it is so fragile and never to be counted on. Each day is a gift, and if you take it gladly and thankfully and hold it as your most precious pearl, you will be close to understanding its value. Let not the night find you still waiting to live, still too cautious to invest your life, still not ready to begin the task of becoming. For life waits not, it hurries and whispers, ‘Come along!’ You can either join the celebration or simply stand and stare as all your todays become yesterdays, all your tomorrows race along the horizon into twilight and leave you with a torn parcel of memories wondering what might have happened if you had really dared to be alive.”

Seize the day!


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