Friday, March 12, 2010

Life Is Short

" is never as long as we want it to be, and wasted time can never be recovered."
J.D. Robb, Divided in Death
This line from one of my favorite authors echoes a personal motto, forged at the sudden death of my father when I was 17: "Death may come when I least expect it. Let me do as much as I can."

I wondered if that echo can be found in the Bible; I had a hunch it could not. I found the following:
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath. (Psalm 39: 5-6)
The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short
(Proverbs 10:27)
Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men! (Psalm 89:47)
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonias 5: 1-3)
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42-44)
I find these all rather depressing because the emotion surrounding each is FEAR. Watch out, be careful, be alert. That thief is out to get you.

There are many more verses that emphasize Eternal Life, the joy of it, the wonder of it, the ecstasy of it. As a UU Christian and a scientist, without hard evidence one way or the other, I don't worry so much about life after death. I worry about the here and now. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15)

But here is one of those places that quoting the Bible distorts The Way of Jesus. Because the bulk of the parables in the Gospels--the stories, not the single verses-- are Jesus' way of urging us to live in the here and now, to do as much as we can right now. Do good, we're shown, not out of fear, but out of love.

We don't need to quote the Bible as much as we need to digest it, eat it, chew on it and make it part of our very being. Otherwise, we miss the point.

Jesus rocks!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that Jesus' message was to focus on the here and now. . . I would also like to offer a little twist to the concept of "wasting time" I us to read this as a sense of urgency to do good or be judged badly if caught off guard but now I see the constant seeking of "busying" myself with good works is just as distracting as doing nothing. I believe Jesus was telling us we need to spend our time enhancing our personal relationship with God. Letting him guide us in want he wants us to do and not assume we can impress him by doing more. I believe we need to guard against doing everything but the one thing God is really calling us to do. Our business can actually block our availability to God. I try to seek a balance by being sensitive to the movements of God in my life and make an effort not to seek out more than he is calling me to do. . . keeping God as the motivating factor of my good will not my own personal pride or need for recognition.