I had a birthday last month which had me thinking about life, years, and, to be honest, mortality. Nothing like a birthday to give you a reality check. If birthdays haven’t done that for you, then you’re not old enough. Just sayin’.
I am using Christmas and birthday cards this year to pray for the senders. I’m finding it a good exercise in thankfulness for the people in my life who take the time to think of me and my family on special occasions. That said, I was reading a birthday card this morning and paused over the words:
Life can’t be counted in candles or measured in years that have flown– it’s counted in kindnesses, close friends and loved ones, and in all the sweet blessings we’ve known.
I asked myself, “how do I count life?” After a year of a double-digit milestone, do the numbers really matter? After all, just this past week, a person from my high school class died. Years, many or few, are pointless when the end comes. They’re also pointless when a person achieves something notable. A child who gets a good report card isn’t rewarded because of their age but their grades. A woman who has a successful business venture isn’t acknowledged based on her age but her success.
The number of years listed in an obituary are just that — numbers. They don’t define the person’s life.
So, I go back to the card. Is my life counted in what I do, who I know or am related to? The world may count it that way, does count it that way. After all, what makes up the obituary but one’s relationships and relations, one’s accomplishments and kindnesses. When we talk of being remembered, we want our obituary to speak well of who we are associated with and what we’ve accomplished.
But is that what counts? Really?
Of all the people who had the potential of a great obituary, it was the Apostle Paul. He’d achieved great things according to the standards, not only of the world during his time, but of the religious community as well. He had the best of both worlds. But what did he say?
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
He not only counted his status and achievements as nothing, but he counted his life as nothing but to know Christ and finding redemption through faith.
Does my life count? I believe it only counts in as much as I have lived by the faith I confess that I have in Christ. This does not mean that my life is not precious to God without that faith, because it is, but what counts in the end is knowing Christ, nothing more.
So, if I could write my obituary today, I would that it contained one phrase: “She knew Jesus.”
Are you counting your life by days, by deeds, by relationships or by Jesus? Choose what really counts and live.
Grace and Peace
*Matthew 6:25, 33