Like a Vapor - A Christian Devotional on Aging
By Debra Torres
When I was a young mother with an ample supply of small children in my care, I’d sometimes have older folks stop and tell me to “enjoy this time.”
They’d give me that knowing look, tell me how fast time goes and that before I knew it, my kids would be grown and gone.
Now, as an exhausted mom, those words always struck me as kind of funny.
You mean I’ll get to sleep through the night uninterrupted? I’ll be able to sit down with a good book and not have to stop to get somebody juice? I could take a shower without a single knock on the door?
Can I hear a “woot woot”?
Ha. Well, you know I’m only joking, but I think that most of those advice-givers must have had only one or two kids, because with five children it seems like I’ve been “enjoying this time” for many, many years.
In fact, I think I hold some sort of record for library storytime attendance.
I’ve counted it up and I’ve been going, for the most part, for nearly 16 years. I told our librarian that I deserved some sort of medal.
Ah, despite my jeering, I am starting to get the point.
Life moves fast.
My first little boy who held fast to my first two fingers as he toddled along, who’d skin his little chubby knees on the sidewalk and who’d dig for dinosaurs with me, will be headed for college before I know it.
Time has passed. I see it in all my kids and quite surprisingly, I see it in myself.
I guess I always figured it was the kids I’d see grow older – not me!
Growing older is strange and mysterious to me, and I’m not quite sure I’ve got a handle on it yet. It surrounds me -- I feel it in my back when I get up from a game of checkers, and I see it in my hair when I spot another strand that’s gray.
If we let it, age can be frightening and we can focus a bit too much on our bodies. But to me, well, there’s an excitement brewing on the horizon that’s beyond compare. I’m so glad there is more to look forward to.
Well-known Christian author and former pastor, Francis Chan, illustrates this concept using a long rope with about 4 inches of red tape wrapped around its end.
He says: “Pretend this rope just goes on forever. Now imagine that this rope is a timeline of your existence. You see this red part? This would represent your time on earth. You’ve got a few short years here on earth and then you’ve got all of eternity somewhere else. What blows me away is some of you – all you think about this red part.” (See video on YouTube.)
When I first watched Chan’s explanation about the rope on YouTube the other day, I was sold.
You know, it’s so true – our lives are short and eternity, well – it goes on forever.
So why spend this time getting upset about aging when, for the Christian, there’s something so vast and wonderful waiting?
Since time is short – there’s all the more reason to make sure that it’s well spent. Chan’s point was that we should spend our time in light of eternity, making choices with heavenly goals in mind instead of earthly ones.
I read something along those lines recently in a devotional by Christian author Max Lucado.
He said: “As we get older, our vision should improve. Not our vision of earth, but our vision of heaven. Those who have spent their life looking for heaven gain a skip in their step as the city comes into view. After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice. In the handwriting of his old age the great artist wrote: ‘Draw, Antonio, draw, and do not waste time.’ Well-founded urgency, Michelangelo. Time slips. Days pass. Years fade. And life ends. And what we came to do must be done while there is time.”
So whatever stage of life we’re in, I think it’s wise to remember that with this little bit of time we have – we need spend it well.
It’s a rare day when I get to go shopping alone, but there I was at Wal-Mart last week walking down the aisle all by myself. Up ahead I saw a woman with a cartful of young boys and a smile played on my lips.
No, I didn't stop and give her the “talk,” but I did pray for her as I passed.
May she discover that time is precious and the clock stops for no one.
Special thanks to my friend and professional photographer, Naomi Lasdon for the use of her photo. Naomi does great work, doesn't she? Check out her website to see more.
Here are some Bible verses that'll help you on your journey:
James 4:14 New American Standard Bible
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Philippians 3:13-14 New International Version
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 103:15-18 English Standard Version
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
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