This is what God’s Word tells us in James 4:14.
Last week an old friend from our first church in Birch Bay, Washington, asked if I would be willing to do the funeral service for her 83 year old father, who had passed away the previous Sunday. I accepted the invitation and the funeral and graveside service were held yesterday.
Earlier in the week my old parishoner and her husband, who were engaged when I first met them and later asked me to do their wedding, reminisced in our living room planning the funeral. I remembered that right across the street from the little Baptist church in Birch Bay was a little cafe’ where the locals would go for breakfast. The deceased ran a sand, gravel, and excavation company, and he used to come into the cafe’ in the mornings for breakfast with some of his crew members. I used to go early to the church and then walk over to the coffee shop to mingle with cops, retired old guys, and contractors. I was 24 years old when I first met Jack (the deceased) and he was 49. The year was 1977. He knew his daughter attended the little Baptist church, and he was wary of me. Polite but not too engaging. After all, what would his crew think if he was friendly with a preacher.
When I look back at those early days I am struck with how quickly time flies–whether you are having fun or not. It seems like yesterday I was a young man just starting out, and now I am 58. Jack is of course no longer with us.
At the funeral I met a man named Mike who was a nine year old member of my Sunday school, and now he is forty something with salt and pepper hair working for the funeral home where we had the service. At the graveside a cute petite lady in her early fifties approached me and asked if I remembered her. She was a waitress back when Jack and his crew used to come into the coffee shop, and she subsequently married one of them.
This all happened thirty four years ago. In thirty four years from now I will be 92–if I get that far, which I probably won’t.
I can’t help but think of all the precious time I have wasted. Not so much in idleness, although that has been a real factor. For me the real time wasters have been those things which seem so urgent in the moment but in the big picture are quite irrelevant. Making money, paying bills, fixing this or that thing. Petty personal squabbles with people over nothing. Getting mad at the tailgating driver or guy who cut me off on the freeway.
Relationship is what matters. Relationship with God and with those closest to us. The years are going to slip by no matter what. Take time out of your busy schedule to sit for an hour over coffee with that friend. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should have no time for such things, that you need to be busy busy busy doing things all the time. I guarantee what you will remember in years to come is not whether you got the lawn mowed or trash put out. You will remember the quality moments you spent with the Lord and special people. The lawn, bills, and trash will always be with you.