I love the fresh start, the clean slate, the limitless possibilities that a new year brings. I’ve made my list of resolutions and set some goals for 2009. But I have a bit of a problem. Do you remember that classic SNL skit where Martin Short and Harry Shearer are synchronized swimmers? (click here if you haven’t seen it) They are discussing the uphill battle that lies ahead of them, and then a deranged-looking Short says, “I’m not that strong a swimmer.” That’s how I feel about setting goals and making resolutions, you see, I’m not that strong a time-manager.
Yet the Psalmist says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Yes, I want that. I want to number my days aright. I want to look back at the end of each day and see I’ve made the most of it. In C.S. Lewis’s classic The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape tells Wormwood that “We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using a mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the present.” Isn’t that sad? But it’s a reality. We can miss the gifts we have in the present because we are dreaming about the future. For those of us who have young children, I think it is especially important to cherish every moment. And of course there is the temptation when I am rebuilding my one-year-old’s train tracks for the fortieth time in an hour, to think “won’t it be nice when he can build his own tracks,” but that’s that insidious altar. I hate that altar. I want to wholeheartedly embrace every “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” I hear all day. I have a seven-year-old so I know how quickly this needy and cuddly time goes.
So there’s a bit of tension between living in the present and goal-setting. On the one hand, you’ve got to look into the future to determine what it is you are going to accomplish, and I firmly believe that there is a specific will for each of us. Yet you won’t accomplish much of anything if you loiter there too long. Maybe that’s where the heart of wisdom comes in. When the Almighty teaches us to number our days according to His good, pleasing and perfect will then we’ll have the wisdom to make the right choices and to wisely allocate our time.
In closing, I thought I’d share a quote from a book I recently reviewed, What in the World is Going On? by David Jeremiah. Jeremiah said, “I am convinced that God puts each one of us exactly where He wants us and gives each of us a task that advances His eternal plan in a particular way…Today is the time God has ordained for you and me to be alive, and we are placed in our time and place with no less purpose than Esther.” Yes, Esther.
That means that you’ve been created for such a time as this and so have I. We better be ordering our days aright!