Time Well Spent

I think I was in eighth grade when singer and actor David Cassidy took his turn as teen idol for adolescent girls. (Heartthrobs are like tennis champs: they reign for a time before succumbing to the next up-and-comer.) You couldn’t walk past a celebrity magazine newsstand without seeing his face plastered all over the place. He had talent, looks, fortune, and fame. The girls in my class loved him. The boys didn’t.

David Cassidy passed away last month. He was 67. Too young we might say. It is always sad to lose someone early, yet it was these, his last words that brought me up short and stopped me in my tracks: “So much wasted time.” That was it. How empty it must have felt to exit this life in such regret.

I do not share this story in pointy-finger judgment. Quite the contrary, Cassidy’s heartache jolts us awake from the slumber of routine and elicits a cry from our soul, “Lord, may this never be true of me!” Indeed, the pop singer’s daughter and actress, Katie Cassidy, tweeted, “This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love so as to never waste another minute … thank you.” She has the right idea—to focus on the things that matter.

But how? How do we live a meaningful, fulfilling, satisfying life? Sharing gratitude is certainly a step in the right direction, yet we do well also to consider insight from another David of long ago, another musician, a psalm-writer. His advice? “Trust in the Lord and do good … delight yourself in the Lord … commit your way to the Lord … be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” When we live openly before God this way, our interests and longings shift over time from the temporal glory of this world to God’s eternal glory and the next. We joyfully discover that the things that truly matter are also the things that last far beyond our lifetime and into forever—namely, loving God and loving other people, not only in the way we feel toward them, but even more so in the things we do for them. Others are served, and we savor satisfaction; God is delighted, and we find fulfillment. For time invested into that which is timeless is time well spent. No regrets.

Father, I confess I don’t always use my time well, in fact, I often don’t. I am truly sorry. Fill me with your Spirit that I would delight in your forever purposes and live this life in love and service to you and to all who journey this life with me. May my life matter for your kingdom. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Thank you for loving my soul and hearing my prayer. Amen.

Christ in me is life.

[Click here to read King David’s advice in Psalm 37:3-7.]

The Power of “Share”

True confession: I came to Facebook kicking and screaming. It seemed to me social media had pulled friends and family into a virtual vortex, consuming all their time … and maybe half their soul. (OK, I exaggerate.) After standing on the edge of the pool for 10 years, though, it was time to jump in. The water was pretty chilly at first, for I unwittingly dived right into the middle of the Fall 2016 presidential campaign! It’s been much warmer since. (Thankfully.)

Closely connecting with lifelong friends has been a profoundly gratifying experience for me, and it’s been fun to discover people we’ve known in common. “I didn’t know you knew Mike! He was a fraternity brother of mine.” But what has surprised me most about social media has been the power of “share.” We might post something on our page and reach 70 people, for instance, but when others “share” our post with their friends, it very rapidly expands, reaching two, three, or four times our original audience, sometimes even more. It’s amazing! In fact, over the past 14 months, this blog, “A Word for Wednesday,” has reached people in 32 countries and every continent except Antarctica. From Chile to China, from Cambodia to Namibia, from Poland to Peru, from Myanmar to Mexico—it’s all been the power of “share,” one person passing the post to his or her Facebook friends, who shared it with their friends, and on and on. (See above map of countries reached by this blog.)

Jesus understood both the importance of “post” and the power of “share.” He has written on our hearts the message of salvation through faith in His death and resurrection, and He commands us to share it in compassion for others. Isn’t this how we received the gift of a full and forever life in Christ, by people sharing it from person to person and from generation to generation, until one day it touched our soul? The technology has changed over the years, but the post has not, nor has the call to spread its truth. For when people next door and around the world come to faith in Christ, His kingdom expands—a growing global network of people who live and flourish in Him. This is the power of “share,” and He has entrusted it to us, His friends. What an honor!

“I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

Jesus, thank you for friending me and for posting your life-giving word in my heart. Grace me with the strength and joy to share you with others as you direct me today. Thank you for this high honor. Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

[Click here to read Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus’ story about the power, expectation, and results of “share.”]

Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure

In his teenage and early-adult years, I would occasionally share this observation with my son, Matthew: “Some people have money because they earn a lot, and some people have money because they don’t spend it.” (When you’ve driven around the block a few times in life, you begin to notice these things!) Even today when young people tell me about working two or three jobs, I tell them that the good thing about working hard is that you earn a lot of money and you don’t have time to spend it. Start saving now! They laugh and nod in agreement, relating well from their new-found experience.

One of the ironies in life is that it takes years of toil and sacrifice to build up a cash reserve—“security” that can vanish in an instant! As King Solomon once wrote, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5). Earning is difficult, but losing money? Well, with apologies to songwriter, Paul Simon, there must be “Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure.”

Just purchase the bridge, Midge, fall for the spiel, Neil
Don’t need to beware, Clare, go shopping with glee
Go out and spend, Len, go buy that brand-new Benz
Just give me the cash, Flash, entrust it to me

You get the point. We can all think of famous “success stories”—business tycoons, movie stars, professional athletes—who had everything, only to lose everything.

Yet fiscal ruin pales in comparison to personal ruin—the loss of family and friends and faith and health. No one ever sets out to sacrifice these things in pursuit of worldly success; it just happens gradually, imperceptibly over time. And so, Solomon says to all who will cease striving long enough listen, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (Proverbs 23:4).

Think long-term, make good decisions, value life balance—I think that’s what Solomon is saying. I’ll take his word for it. Seems like a wise enough guy.

Father, thank you for every good gift that comes from you. Lead me into wise decisions, that I would seek you each day and invest this life into the well-being of those you put in my path today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.