Monks on the island of Cyprus have an interesting custom. These monks, by torchlight in the middle of the night, visit a catacomb where the bones of other monks are kept. While there, they pray and chant for their deceased brothers. At first this ritual may seem bizarre, or even a bit morbid, but they do it for a very important reason. This ritual is practiced to keep the reality that death is inevitabel to us all front and center. It doesn’t matter who you are, the richest, the most popular, even the most spiritual person, will die like everyone else. These monks want to remember that truth, so that they are reminded to spend the little time they do have here, wisely.
When we realize how scarce our time is, we value it a little differently. For example, I added it up, and I only have about 751 weeks left with my son Jack before he leaves for college. No way around it, Jack will turn 18 one day, move out of the house and I will no longer have him to myself. 751 weeks, give or take a few, and there is no way to get more. This reality makes me value my time differently, makes me spend it a little differently, makes me prioritize my time with Jack over other things that are really trivial in comparison.
Too many people invest their time poorly. They spend their time earning lots of money, only to find out when they reach 70 or 80, that they have burned all their relationships and have no one to spend that money on. They are even too old to spend it all on themselves before they die.
Others spend their whole life building themselves up. They build their career, their platform, their legacy. The trouble is they never take the time to invest in others, so that someone picks up their mantle and their legacy continues after they are gone. They spend their whole life building something that will die with them.
What are the things that really matter? Fortune, fame, glory? For me it is my relationship with God, family, friends, my ministry at the church. Your list might be different. Whatever your priorities in life, it is important to realize you only have a limited time on this earth to invest in them. When that time is up, it is up. You can’t reallocate how you spent your time after your gone. You can’t go back and focus on the things that really matter after life is over. And, the reality is, the end is getting near.
When was the last time you thought about how short life really is? When you think about the brevity of life, what priorities come into focus? Are you focusing on them currently, or do you need to start spending your time differently?