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  • James Stegall

The Brevity of Life

I usually use these posts to elaborate upon the sermons I’ve given over the last two weeks, but I’ve felt stirred to call a last-minute audible and write about something closer to my heart at the moment. With the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant and yet another sudden passing of a fellow UMC pastor in our district happening over two consecutive days, I want to spend time writing about the brevity of life.

The brevity of life has been something that has been a daily meditation and pondering of mine since I was young. I do not remember when it started, but one day I realized that life is short and we really aren’t promised tomorrow. This thought was solidified even more after I became a Christian and saw how short our lives were in relation to the eternity we have with or without God after we die. Seeing how our lives were held in God’s hands magnified in my mind how we aren’t promised tomorrow. No matter how healthy and careful I am, tomorrow could be it for me if God, in his infinite and flawless wisdom, decides. Heck, it could be by the end of writing this.

James tells us in his epistle that we should not boast about either today or tomorrow because we don’t know what will happen in our lives. "What is our life?," he asks. It is but “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14) Our lives feel long while we are living them (we can all relate to the days at work that never seems to end, can’t we?), but they are here today and gone tomorrow.

In his only psalm, Moses shares a bit of wisdom that has guided me for more than a decade now: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) I sincerely understand how thinking upon the shortness of life may feel morbid or worrisome. When done with the mercy and kindness of God in view, however, I believe that it is life-giving and wisdom-instilling. Moses shows us that keeping the brevity of our lives in view gives us wisdom. It gives us wisdom because it teaches us to live each day to its fullest, living each one with as much love, grace, and appreciation as possible.

What Kobe Bryant and Len Evans’s deaths have put before me yet again is that our next day, hour, or breath is not promised. They have reminded me yet again that the time God has given me is precious and should not be wasted. God has granted us the gift of this present moment, may we use it to demonstrate his grace as effectively as possible in our daily lives. May we use it to care for the hurting and needy amongst us. May we use it to hold our loved ones a little closer. May we use it to love him with all we have and love others as we love ourselves.

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