Today I have a couple of hours to kill while the kids are busy at church. I head for one of my favorite haunts I discovered in college, a series of little pull-off picnic areas along the river. It’s not exactly a well-kept secret. Most of the locals know about it. But it has remained a quiet place where life, like the river, flows at a more peaceful pace.
I throw my blanket on the bedrock outcropping at river’s edge. The ancient pink granite, marbled with white quartz veins, is wrinkled and worn, its face wearing splotchy patches of green and gray fungus. Where rock merges with water, ripples and swirls dance silently along an eddy line. Water bugs drift downstream, then suddenly dart back up. They have one goal: not to become food for the fish that frequently surface in search of a snack. At moments like this, I’m reminded how good it is to be at the top of the food chain!
Of course, being at the top of the food chain carries with it some heavy responsibilities. We’re created in God’s image. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”(Genesis 1:26a) We each have a soul, a will, a conscience, and a creative intellect unknown to the animal kingdom. We’re not merely highly evolved mammals, driven by instincts and urges.
In Ephesians 5: 15-16, Paul reminds us to “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.” Unlike the rest of earthbound creation, we’re accountable to God for our choices. That means we should be deliberate about how we use our time and resources, right?
Lately, that’s a real challenge for me. It feels like life is passing me by. I can’t seem to find time for the things I feel compelled to do because I’m preoccupied with the things I must do. When I have free time, usually at the end of the day when everyone else is in bed, I’m too tired to tackle much more than a movie and some embroidery. I wonder what I’m accomplishing that’s of eternal value. Friends tell me caring for my family is my current calling. I know that’s vital. I don’t want to minimize my role as wife and mother in any way. But somehow it doesn’t feel like enough.
The river flows onward like the march of time. This water, which holds me spellbound, has just begun its long journey to its union with the Mississippi River, then journey’s end at the Gulf of Mexico where it will be lost in oceanic vastness. It will never pass this way again. My days are dancing swiftly, steadily, silently by, carried along on the current of time. The wasted days can never be reclaimed. The missed opportunities may never come again. There are no “do over’s” in life. Each tick of the clock brings me closer to eternity.
The thought compels me to pray, “Lord, am I being obedient? Am I doing what You’ve called me to do? If my current task is solely being devoted to my family, then give me peace. If not, show me what I’m missing and empower me to do it.”
There is no immediate peace, no immediate answer. One question lingers, as food for thought from the Heavenly Father. When I leave this earth, will I leave any mark behind to commemorate my existence? Or will I, fly away and soon be forgotten.
Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream Dies at the opening day.
(lyrics from Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, by Isaac Watts)