Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Living with Purpose in the Time We Have Left

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Recently, during our Friday morning breakfast Book Club, a few friends and I got to talking about how much time we have left to make a difference with our lives.  Our ages range from the late 50’s to mid 60’s. We wondered what the average life expectancy for a male was, and we were sobered to find out that in the U.S. it is 76.1 years.
Similarly, a woman in our small group who had recently retired wondered about what she should be doing with her time to live with purpose for God. For women, the life expectancy n the U.S. is 81.1 years. These are averages of course. None of us know how much more time we have, and we know that not one more minute is guaranteed to us.
Several years ago, when my wife Tammy was volunteering at a soup kitchen, a much older friend told her that it seems that time moves much more quickly the older we get. That certainly seems to be the case with me. One morning, I had a wonderful time at breakfast with my Dad. But when I ordered off of the “Senior Menu”, he was taken aback. His son ordering off of the “Senior Menu”? Where had the time gone?

Frankly, other than Sundays, I find myself losing track of what day of the week it is. Time moves so quickly. Once I was the youngest member of our leadership team at work, then I became the oldest, and now I’m retired. I’ve found that I’ve transitioned from looking at the engagements and wedding announcements in the local newspaper, to checking the obituaries daily, and frankly, I see far too many people I know in there.
So, knowing that time is moving at almost a frightening pace, and we aren’t guaranteed to live long enough to read the end of this article, what are we going to do to live a life of purpose and serve God with the time we have left?
One of the books that has had the most impact on me is John Piper’s 2003 book Don’t Waste Your Life. In that book, he writes of a few verses from a poem by C.T. Studd that were framed in his home growing up. Those verses are pertinent here:
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

We don’t know how many days we have left on this earth to serve God with the talents and abilities that He has gifted us with (Ecclesiastes 9:12). What are you doing now, or what can you start doing to serve God well?
Bob Buford, in his book Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, writes “I don’t believe that God creates us with specialized abilities and temperaments and then asks us to do things for him that require completely different abilities and temperaments.” So, there is a good chance that the best way to serve God with the days you have left is to utilize to His Glory those specialized abilities that He created you with, and you have used up to this time. So, consider serving Him by doing what you like to do, and what you are good at. What might this be? Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Visitation
  • Writing
  • Social work – soup kitchen, food pantry, Hospice volunteer, working with foster children.
  • Service in your local church (leading, teaching, audio/visual team, holding babies in the nursery, etc.)

My wife had a friend in her 80’s that wound up in a nursing home.  She was NOT happy about it.  For 6 months she would list off all of the things that she couldn’t do anymore (take her own shower, get around without a wheelchair, etc.)  But then a light went on for this Godly woman.  She was to bloom where she was planted.  So, she decided to list everything she was still able to do, which included giving a smile to everyone who walked in her room.  Pretty soon she became an advocate for all of the other patients around her.  She took the time to grieve her current situation and then the Lord continued to use her.
Where you serve and what you do will be a very individual decision. Remember to do your work heartily as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23), doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17) all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
What are you doing to serve God with the days you have left?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 40 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

5 thoughts on “Living with Purpose in the Time We Have Left

  1. Sobering, but good article, Bill. I’m reading AN UNCOMMON GUIDE TO RETIREMENT by Jeff Haanen in preparation for retirement. 👍

  2. Very timely article for me. My father-in-law turned 90 and it has me thinking about how many years I have left on this earth.

  3. I think that is a greatly written and powerful article. It really spoke to me!

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