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The measure of time

Posted on April 25, 2020 at 8:15 AM

I love the saying, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” In fact, I did my very best to hold tightly to that thought after my husband passed away. In the initial stages of grief, I had many regrets of the things I wished I had done differently. But, with the passage of time, the pain began to soften into longing and I was better able to celebrate the precious moments we did have together.


I was surprised to find that no one is sure who first coined the phrase, since it’s used in some many situations and places – wall art, quilts, funerals, weddings – and in just about everything Hobby Lobby produces. The earliest evidence seems to be in a 1989 booklet written for dancers by Vicki Corona. It’s buried within her warning that, although rehearsals are often grueling, the joy is in the dance itself and not the preparation.


The poet Philip James Bailey first released his magnum opus “Festus” in 1839. In an expanded version published in the US in 1853 he wrote “We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heartthrobs. He most lives who thinks most – feels the noblest – acts the best.”


The enemy would love to snare us in a trap of self-accusation. He wants to keep bringing back to our minds all the old hurts, regrets, and pain. And we, creatures of habit that we are, can easily become tangled up in the web of “wishing our lives away.” It’s infinitely easier to keep rooted in our mess than it is to pull ourselves up and out of it.


But in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Christ tells us that, once we have given the mess over to Him, “we are a new creation.” In fact, we’re promised that all that old junk is gone. The second half of the verse states “old things (that means thinking, patterns, sins, and all manner of stinky-ness) are passed away; behold, all things become new.”


We have the choice to drive down the road watching the rear view mirror, or to make the decision that we can’t change the past, and so keep our eyes trained on the promises ahead of us. There comes a point where punishing ourselves over who we were quits being a way to stay on track, and becomes an excuse to stand still. We get the victory over the current battle, but don’t want to trust God enough to acknowledge that He will also fight the entire war with us.


I have days of regretful nostalgia. I think that’s just human nature, particularly as time gets shorter and we know we’ve lived the majority of our lives. It would be impossible to not wonder what could have happened if we’d made different choices along the way. But speculating about it, and drowning in regret, are two very different things.


We can’t possibly think that God, who sent His only Son to pay the debt for all the mistakes we’ve made – before, by the way, we were even born – wouldn’t also make provision for everything ahead of us. Should we repay that sacrifice by refusing to walk into His promise of a rich and blessing-filled future?


Isaiah 46:4 says “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” We will inevitably age, get to the end of the runway without having done everything we wanted to, and long to change what is behind us. But God has promised that He will walk through every moment with us - from the second He planted us in our mother’s womb, to the very last breath we pull into our lungs.


Let’s not waste too much time wondering what we should have done differently and focus on what God would ask us to do next.


Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne!

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Reply inpurgy
11:25 PM on May 1, 2021 
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