I was carrying my shrimp rolls and Thai ice tea back to the car when I noticed the sirens and flashing lights. They weren’t there when I arrived, but now the whole block was surrounded by fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, and concerned neighbors. It was a hit and run. After I walked past the EMTs who were performing CPR on what seemed to be a lifeless body, I got into my car and sat there in silence for what seemed like ages.
A week later, this moment still lingers. In the fifteen minutes it took for me to order food at a restaurant, someone died a block away. I didn’t know the person, but what happened to them has affected me deeply.
It was a reminder to me of how fleeting life is. We all know this, but at some level I think we live with a secret hope that our life is the exception to that rule - that ours will be less-fleeting than others’. That maybe we’ll live to a ripe old 100 and die peacefully in our sleep.
But we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Which begs the question - what will we do with our today?
I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer, but these are important (perhaps some of the most important) things for us to consider. In fact, it’s Biblical!
As the Apostle Peter writes, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)
As an Enneagram 1, I often think about what legacy I’m leaving behind, what mark I’m making on the world. I don’t want to bury my talents, as the parable warns. I want to use the gifts, relationships, and situations that God has given me to make an impact for His kingdom.
I want to live a life that matters.
And it’s okay to strive for this. This is an acceptable goal, a worthy desire.
But more often than not - if I’m being completely honest - I make this goal my Number 1 Thing In Life. The pursuit (leaving a lasting legacy, making a difference) becomes more important than the reason for pursuing it (the love and transformation of Christ). And often I get stuck in my lofty dreams and ambitions and become too paralyzed to actually live out anything meaningful in the day to day ordinariness of life. Too often, I aim for the big and I forget the importance of the small.
But looking again at the passage from 1 Peter, the list he encourages us to pay heed to is filled with small, daily things rather than big, center-of-the-spotlight, five-year-plan sorts of things. Be clear-minded and self-controlled. Pray. Love each other deeply. Use your gifts to serve others. Extend God’s grace.
What if the biggest difference I can make is in the ordinary day-to-day interactions? What if the best changes within myself come from the small, unseen practices of my seemingly mundane routines? What if the legacy I’m being invited to be part of — the Kingdom of Jesus — is one that requires less of my own making and more of following the direction of His quiet grace?
And so, with the time I have been given, and at this still-early stage of a new year, are my resolutions or goals ones that seek to help me be clear-minded and self-controlled so that I can pray? Do they involve loving others deeply and administering the grace of God (both in big ways and in little ways)?
I know I’ve got some things to think about. How about you?