Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
You may have heard the name Anthony Ackroyd—an Australian comedian, speaker and writer known to many from his TV appearances.
Back in January 2014, he wrote an article in the The Sydney Morning Herald about his experience finding a lump on his back one night. It surprised him, because he was quite healthy, and he became scared about what it could be. He couldn’t get to sleep worrying about it, and he was convinced it was cancer, and that he was going to die. It was quite a wake up call. The article was called “Like it or Lump it, Life is Finite”. Quite clever, I thought.
Time is precious
He ignored the lump, hoping it would go as many of us men would do, but he couldn’t escape the fear and worry of his future. Eventually he went to his doctor, and he had what’s called a ‘fat tumour’. Quite common, and nothing to worry about. Anthony felt quite relieved and here’s what he wrote in the newspaper article:
I begin to see clearly that time is indeed precious and not to be wasted and that this includes not wasting it by pursuing fabricated urgencies that rob us of the richness inherent in every moment… But to live fully right here and now, that’s an awfully big challenge that we all have to grow up and face sometime. Like it, or lump it.
It was a great article, and I found it challenging and interesting—because life is indeed a precious gift. We instinctively know this, but seldom put it into words, unless we discover a lump, as Anthony Ackroyd did. We start thinking differently. We are so busy we rush through the day, brush our teeth, gulp down a coffee and race in traffic to get to work—we have so much to do.
Irish singer songwriter Van Morrison put out a song in 1999 called Precious Time. It became one of his most frequently requested songs. It says:
Precious time is slipping away,
You know you’re only king for a day.
It doesn’t matter to which God you pray,
Precious time is slipping away.
Where has our time gone?
I’m sure you’ve said as I have, Where has the time gone? We live on this planet once, and we need to make it count for something. Let’s not ignore the value of life—not squander life or let it slip away. It was the Lord Jesus who said “I have come to give you life—life in all its fullness”. But too often we ignore God. Life moves and changes so fast, that it all becomes overwhelming. Moses lived to be 102, which was very old in the Old Testament days. Psalm 90:10 says that man’s days are soon gone and we fly away.
If life does not work out we can become angry and blame the world around us, finding fault in others. We may complain If only I had a better job or bigger salary. But the reality is many of the most successful people in the world are still bored, discontented, running from one new thing to another. Or they blame themselves, I have stopped trying to be happy—it never works. And then you become cynical, hard, disillusioned, feel yourself losing your humanity, compassion and joy. Don’t let that happen to you!
Remember God has created you to enjoy life and find fulfilment in a personal relationship with him. That’s what really counts. We belong to God and owe him gratitude for every breath of life and every second. It’s important because we are built to live for him. If it’s not for him, it’s for something or someone else. We have rejected God—our priority is to make our own joy and happiness the number one goal.
We are sinners in need of a personal Saviour. God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world. He lived a perfect life. Others took his life by nailing him to the cross. When we believe in Jesus our sins are dealt with at the cross, and God accepts us as if we never sinned. Life takes on a new meaning—and it’s then we most clearly realise each minute is precious, and not to be wasted.
How much time do we spend on things that don’t matter, or have no real significance?
If you read the New Testament, you’ll see how Jesus used each day in a purposeful way. He never seemed to be in a hurry. He didn’t start his ministry until he was 30. He spent time with children, prayed with people, and went to social gatherings. He had enough time to do everything he needed. We have only so many years to live. One third of that is sleeping—when we awake, how much time do we spend on things that don’t matter, or have no real significance?
Don’t waste your life
Bible teacher John Piper wrote an excellent book called Don’t Waste Your Life, which is free as a PDF download. He reminds us that in December 1965, The Beatles released their album Rubber Soul. It spoke to the young people of that time—perhaps it was clearest in John Lennon’s “Nowhere Man”:
He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to.
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Generations ago, many Christians had a plaque they displayed in their home which read, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”. May your life count for something really good and lasting.