Tornadoes, Coronavirus, and How to Prioritize What Matters Most
by: Al Robertson
In the past year or two, I have begun to realize that I was on the back end of middle age. I never gave much thought to how brief life really is. Then I lost my Aunt Jan last fall followed by my Uncle Tommy a few months later. Next, the coronavirus hit us in the spring. And then this week, a string of bad weather whipped through our parish and brought with it a couple of nasty tornadoes.
Life can end in a split second, and to be honest with you, we don’t have a lot of control over our own safety or the length of our lives. Everything is contingent on a thousand different variables. I mean a bolt could fall off of a poorly designed Boeing 737 Max and come through the roof of my truck and kill me before I ever knew what hit me. Just like that.
Lest you think me morbid, perhaps you should read what King David had to say on the subject. Being in touch with one’s mortality, according to him, actually has great value in helping us to decide how we should live our lives.
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life Is.” (Psalm 39:4)
Coming to terms with just how short my life really is has had one very positive impact on how I live it — knowing that my life is brief has allowed me to prioritize. The more I am in touch with my mortality, the more I find myself letting go of the unimportant things of life and pursuing the things that endure throughout eternity.
The Bible says that life is so short that it is like a vapor, a burst of steam, a breath. There was a point where I began to understand this, and by growing in my understanding of it, it began to change me. I want to share three areas of my life that were impacted.
For a few years, our marriage was sort of on autopilot. There was no sense of urgency or alarm. This allowed the Evil One access to the covenant we had made with each other and with God.
But relationships are a lot like growing crops; remember the parable of the sower and Paul’s statement that men plant and water but it is God who causes plants to grow and produce crops? In our case, the idea that we would have time somewhere in the future to nurture the little plant that was our marriage allowed the withering influence of the world to stunt our relationship. Evil crept into the void and did its damage.
It was only after Lisa and I were both surprised at how much time had elapsed without us being shocked at the little things that were eroding our marriage that we set a timer and began to treasure every second as if it were the last second in our marriage. Bottom line? It changed us individually and as a couple.
2. Raising Kids!
I get it — you’re in your early twenties, and you’re all focused on planning for the future. Your career is just getting off the ground, and you figure you have to get it while the getting’s good. I mean, all the kids need are a few toys and a cool day-care, right?
But the Spirit says that the first responsibility of parents is to “train up a child in the way that he should go.” Meeting material needs is important, but what good does it do to raise a well-fed, pampered child if they don’t know God? I’ve heard countless parents ask, “Where has the time gone?
The answer is that if we aren’t in tune with life’s brevity, time is often wasted. Opportunities pass us by, never to be recaptured again. But parents who understand that the time is short are so much more intentional about what they give their kids. Their sense of urgency drives them to give their children what they need more than anything else in life — Jesus!
3. Money and Wealth!
We all like a little change in our pockets. And for sure, money can make life easier in many respects. But the Bible doesn’t have a lot of complimentary things to say about wealth. It is portrayed as fleeting and deceitful. The love of it is the “root of all kinds of evil.” People who pursue it are often shown to be callous and selfish.
But wealth and money are not in themselves evil. We are also told to share what we have “with those in need.” John asks, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
The Bible’s advice seems to be this: If you can make money by honest hard work, do so. But remember that when your short life is over, not one dollar that you earned will matter in the eternal scheme of things, except that you were willing to share your wealth with people who had none. Life’s too short to make it about how much you have accumulated.
Take a few minutes every day to pray for God to fill you with a sense of how short your life is. You will not regret the sense of urgency that comes from knowing this. True fulfillment only comes from our lives becoming lined up with the will of God, and we can only be lined up with his will when we value the things he values.
Photo credit: City of Monroe