Summary: Life is short. Make every day count.

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Numbers 14:40-45

To Fear or Follow

Woodlawn Baptist Church

November 25, 2007

James said that “life is like a vapor. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. It appears for just a brief time, and then it’s gone.” The psalmist said that life is like grass. It rises in the morning, grows tall in the afternoon, only to be cut down in the evening. Job said that life is brief, like the swift flight of an eagle, swooping down after its prey. They were all right, weren’t they? Life is definitely short.

I turned 38 in August, and in some ways life has seemed to have run slowly. There are times when I feel like I’ve been around for a long, long time. But for the most part it has flown by. High school seems like a few months ago; my wedding day doesn’t feel like 17 years ago. My children definitely should not be so old. But it’s more than that. There are things I had hoped to have accomplished by now, milestones I had hoped would be behind me rather than still out ahead. I thought life would have looked differently than it does today.

One Sunday night in October Kathy came up to me before services and told me a girl I had dated in high school had died. After services we got online and found the obituary. There it was, in black and white, my old girlfriend, just a couple of weeks younger than me, dead, gone. “Grown up in a moment, cut down in the evening.” It was a weird feeling. I’m around death quite a lot, but this one was different. Not so much because she was an old girlfriend, but because death had knocked close to home. I literally spent two days staring at that obituary, praying and thinking about the days God gives us, and He was speaking loud and clear: Life is short Kevin; make every day count.

Some of you have been reading through Matthew this week. Maybe others of you are reading the gospels too. As I read them I read about the remarkable life of Jesus Christ: how a young man moved from obscurity to world renown in a little over three years. I read about the lives He touched, about the lives that were changed, about the people He influenced, and about the relationships He inspired. His life was shorter than mine, yet He changed the world without the use of books, magazines, radio, television or internet. The life that was formed in a carpenter’s shop ended abruptly on a cross, yet Jesus made every day count.

You want every day to count too, don’t you? You want your days with your husband or your wife or your kids and grandkids to count. You want those days to mean something. Every man in this room wants to know that the days he spent on this earth were about more than pecking away at a piece of wood or pushing a pencil. You want to know that your time here meant something. We want to know that we’ve left our mark. When I talk to one electrical contractor, he doesn’t tell me about pulling wires or bending conduit. He tells me about the well-known buildings his wire is in.

But it’s more than that. In every human being there is a need that’s been hard-wired into us that drives us to desire significance and value. Look at the television line-up from last year and this year. Heroes was one of the most popular shows of the year – about normal people with extraordinary abilities who go around doing great things. This year the bionic woman is back, then there’s Chuck, the everyday nerd who gets all the governments top secrets downloaded to his brain. Now he’s got to be responsible for those secrets. What about Journeyman, the writer who finds himself able to travel back in time to do good things for people?

All these stories are about normal people like you and me; people with an innate desire to do something of worth, of value, to leave their mark. If you’re not careful, you’ll suppress that God-given desire until you grow content to take a paycheck and wait for glory. But I suspect that most of you still live with that desire. I see it in moms who invest hours in the lives of their kids. They lecture and fuss over manners and posture and tips on dating. Parents attending ball games and banquets, trying to form responsible little men and women. I see it in church members who give hours of their days, or days of their lives pouring over Bible studies, praying over empty chairs, diligently teaching or training others to live for God.

Can I get you to do a little mental exercise with me? Think back over the last week. Were there conversations you wish you’d have had? Relationships you wish you had nurtured? Prayers you wish you had prayed? Was there something of significance you wish you had done? Or done differently? Think back over the past month, or even better, as 2007 draws near its end, did it go the way you had hoped? Can you believe that after today there are only 5 Sundays left?

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