I turned 33 this week, and turning the same age that Jesus was when He had completely fulfilled His earthly ministry caused me to pause and think about what I am accomplishing with my life.
John Paton was 33 when he and his wife sailed to the New Hebrides islands to be missionaries to cannibals. Adoniram Judson was 24 when he and his wife moved to Burma (now Myanmar) to be missionaries to what was then a “closed” country. David Brainerd died at the age of 29 from tuberculosis after being sick and discouraged much of his adult life–yet his hope in God and zeal for ministry led hundreds of Native Americans to faith in Christ, and his diaries continue to have an impact today. Robert Murray McCheyne was 29 when he died of typhus, yet his ministry continues through his biography, writings, and Bible reading plan that is popular even today. Jim Elliott, who said “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” proved it by dying as a martyr at the age of 28 trying to evangelize Indians in Ecuador. His wife, Elizabeth Elliott, was 32 when she and her 3 year old daughter went to live with the tribe that had killed her husband, so that they could teach them about Jesus. Amy Carmichael was 33 when she began rescuing girls from prostitution in India and giving them the hope of the Gospel as well as a home.
I don’t write this to make either you or myself simply feel bad about what we are accomplishing right now as compared to others, but to ask ourselves, “Am I making the best use of my time?” I don’t need to be a missionary or the Son of God to obey Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” But am I fulfilling the ministry that the Lord has for me right now, and am I doing it in light of eternity? Am I making purposeful choices, realizing that how I choose to spend my days will turn into how I lived my life?
By God’s great grace I plan to be a Pastor, but tomorrow I will put on a black polo shirt and go sell phones at Sprint. The all-important question that faces all of us everyday no matter where we find ourselves tomorrow is, “Am I glorifying Christ in how I live?” Am I choosing to be a light for Christ wherever I am? Am I pursuing holiness in my day to day life? Am I further along now in my understanding of God’s Word and His will than I was 1 year ago? Am I praying and asking God how my family and I could better serve Him where we are at now? Am I looking to the future, realizing that the decisions I make now will shape my life for the next 33 years? Am I investing in my wife and children, knowing that quantity time really is better than quality time in the long haul?
As Moses prayed thousands of years ago, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Lord, teach me to number my days so that if you bless me with another 33 years You will be more glorified in my life, family, and ministry than You are now. Lord, teach me to number my days so that if I died tomorrow as some of Your faithful servants died at a young age, that others would be encouraged to live for You by my memory. Oh, may we not look back at the end of our lives and say that we wasted them! Are you making the best use of your time?