“Mommy, how long will your life be?” my little boy asks me as we are driving down the road. Minivans are where all of life’s most profound questions take place, right? At least it seems that way when you are a mom with little children in the back seats.
I consider how to best answer his question and come up with the wise response of, “Well, I don’t know, buddy.”
He is not satisfied. “How long, mommy?” He presses. “100 years?”
I take a deep breath, I am going to have to give him a better answer. So I respond:
“God gives everyone a certain number of days and years here on earth. We don’t know how long that will be, only God knows. We all get a different time. Your great-grandma is already 101 years old. That’s a long life! But your grandpa, my daddy, was 50 years old when he went to heaven with God. Some people get more years, and some people get fewer.
Every day is a gift, so we should just enjoy each one and thank God. And the MOST wonderful thing is that if we trust in Jesus, we get to live together in heaven with Him and each other forever.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We can pray and ask God to give us a long, happy life here and then take us to heaven. And I hope that he will let me live to be more than 100, so I can be with you, and your kids, and their kids, and their kids! Okay, buddy?”
“Okay, Mommy.” He answers. Whew!
“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
I have remembered this conversation many times since it took place several months ago. This year, I find myself thinking more about the number of days in life. I think it is because I recently turned 40, the big 4-0!!
I feel like it was just yesterday I was turning 20, a newlywed and in college. And just the day after that, I was turning 30. And now, here I am, middle aged.
When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I see 40 years staring back at me. I see wrinkles in my face brought on by time and life. I dye my hair so it won’t be gray all over the roots. I push my body to run more and more miles, even though I am slower, in large part just to prove to myself that I am still strong enough to do it.
We live in a world that values youth, beauty and physical strength. In my flesh, I fight the signs of aging, because they are a reminder of how short life is, and how quickly it goes by. My humanity doesn’t want to face getting older, but my spirit recognizes the blessings that also come to us as we age, such as wisdom and deeper faith. My soul knows that what really matters are the things that will last for eternity.
“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.”
I reflect on what has been important to me these 40 years: my childhood, education, my marriage of 20 years, my two precious sons, relationships with family and friends, church communities we have worshipped and served with, my career as a teacher, and now as a stay at home mom and homeschool teacher to my young sons. I think about the skills and hobbies that fill up my heart and shape me into who I am.
I evaluate this first part of my life, checking off in my head things I feel I have accomplished. I let go of some dreams I thought I wanted, but haven’t yet achieved, while also making more “bucket list” goals for the future.
I meant what I said to my sons. If Jesus tarries in His return, I pray He will give me 100 years or more on this earth. I love life! I love people, nature and animals, art and music, books and learning…all of the amazing gifts that God has given us to enjoy while we spend our time here. I want to be that lady who still rides horses in her 80s, and finishes a marathon when she’s in her 90s. I want to write books, and paint masterpieces. I want to be married to my husband for 80 years, so we can see our children and grandchildren dream and discover.
Yet I know that even if I do live to be 100, that is just a speck compared to eternity. Looking back, one hundred years will go by as quickly as these forty years have. And when this life is over, only one thing will matter more than anything else. The greatest question of my life (and yours) will be: am I saved? Forgiven? Redeemed?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
I know I have trusted in Christ for my salvation, I can rest assured. So how can I live now to show my gratitude to God for His gift of eternal life, and for the many gifts He has blessed me with on earth? What do I want to teach my children? How can I best spend the days He has numbered for my life?
1. Love God First
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””
2. Love People
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
3. Share the Truth of the Gospel
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.””
4. Spread Joy and Thankfulness
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
So, now I’m 40. I’m somewhere right in the middle of this thing we call life. But I think I am just getting started at figuring out how to wake up every day and be better at loving God, loving people, sharing truth from His Word, and experiencing more joy and thankfulness in everyday life.
My sons asks me, “How long will your life be, Mommy?” And I can’t give them an answer. But I can try to teach them a little more each day about life and about God. I can try to show them His love and His goodness through the way that I love them. Every day we spend together will have meaning, and I’ll thank God for every minute, for all the days of my life!