Summary: Beginning of the Forty Days of Purpose series; why knowing our purpose is so vital
Life Is Too Precious to Waste
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Life is too precious to waste! It is! But you can! Life can be wasted. We all know that. We see it happen. We talk about it.
A talented, bright, energetic young child takes ill and dies. He is struck down before his life had hardly begun. “What a waste,” we all say. A carload of high school seniors celebrates after graduation. They speed down a country road and miss a turn. No one survives. All the talk at the funeral home is the same, “What a waste.” So much potential! Goals, dreams, futures—all gone in an instant. At such times we instinctively know life is too precious to waste.
Wasted lives happen in other ways, too. A young husband starts drinking, just a little at first. No big deal. But soon he’s drinking more and more. He misses work. He comes home angry. He becomes more and more hateful to his wife and kids. It gets worse. Maybe he loses his job. Perhaps his wife has had enough. The family comes apart. A guy with so much going for him loses everything. Everybody who knows them says the same thing, “What a waste!”
It doesn’t have to be a major tragedy. Just a disappointment will do. A basketball team practices hard. They get better and better as the season progresses. Everyone has high hopes. The big game comes. The championship is within reach. It’s just not their night. They play their worst game of the season. They could have done so much better. They worked so hard. What a waste.
Maybe it’s somebody with talent who doesn’t use it. It could be somebody who has worked so hard and put in years and years of preparation and then doesn’t do anything with it. Maybe a student goes all the way through medical school, trains and works, and then at the last minute gets cold feet and drops out. Maybe that was the best decision for him. But everyone who knows him can’t help but think, “what a waste.”
When we say life is too precious to waste, we’re not just talking about death and tragedy. We’re talking about wasted talent, wasted work, wasted effort, and wasted opportunities. We have all been there, done that! It could be an opportunity to turn over a new life, step out into a new direction, break an old habit, get on top of a nagging problem, finally make a lifelong dream come true, but we let it pass. Maybe we’re not sure. Perhaps it’s too good to be true. Maybe we just don’t have the confidence to take the first step. Unrealized potential, unmet goals, broken dreams, opportunities missed—that’s the stuff of wasted lives.
Life is too precious to waste for lots of reasons. Life is precious because there is so little of it. The Bible speaks our language when it says that life is but a vapor, an early morning fog. Here one moment. Gone the next (James 4:14). “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” Moses prayed (Ps 90: 12).
Imagine someone gave you $25,000. That might seem like a fortune to a teenager. To the parents, far from it! 25,000—that’s the number of days in an average life. If you’re past forty, over half are spent already. Sixty or better—there’s just some change left. Life is precious because there is so little of it.
But it’s more than that. Life passes so quickly. A man went to his doctor to find out why he had been having such severe headaches. The doctor runs some tests and after a few hours calls the man into his office. "I have terrible news," he tells the patient. "Your condition is terminal." "Oh, no!” the man cries. "How long do I have?" "Ten ..." began the doctor. "Ten what?" the patient interrupted. "Days? Months? Years?" "Nine," continued the doctor, "eight, seven, six...!"
Someone with too much time on their hands has calculated that in a lifetime the average American will spend: nearly twenty years sleeping; nine years watching TV; six years eating; two years getting dressed; six months sitting at stoplights; eight months opening junk mail; one year looking for misplaced objects; two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls; four years doing housework; and five years waiting in line. (Survey of 6000 people polled in 1988, U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 30, 1989, p. 81).
The Psalmist wrote, "Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (Psalm 39:4). In Psalm 90, "The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength...they quickly pass, and we fly away" (90:10).