by Ramesh Richard
“The clock is ticking; time is running out,” blared my radio as I shaved each morning. The commercial attempted to motivate listeners to buy a fine car by a certain date. While the ad did not succeed in moving me to urgent action—shaving with a regular razor takes longer than using an electric one—the spirit of losing opportunity because time evaporates resonated with God’s encouragement to use our lifetime well.
This earthly life is made up of units and seasons of time. The Psalmist consistently mourns that life is but a breath in length (Psalm 39:4-6), and all lives together are lighter than one breath in weight (Psalm 62:9)!
We can’t make life longer—and even the longest of lives is filled with toil and trouble (Psalm 90:10), but can we make life weightier? Can we turn this featherweight earthly life and use it for heavy-weight eternal impact? How may we go about making transitory lives more profitable to the Master? I suggest that a higher and longer perspective on our transience is our only recourse.
An eternal perspective gives us a heavier alternative to a light-weight, pragmatic, this-worldly existence.
Further, missional pursuits will provide for long-term fruit beyond our brevity.
I’d like to rise above viewing life merely as time. Here I borrow Paul’s metaphor of life as a race. We are not here to just run a biological course or pursue a professional career, but to fulfill God’s unique calling in our course and career.
God’s view of life as work, time, race, course and mission combines three times in the New Testament around the Greek word dromos. For Paul, life goes beyond career and vocation, occupation and livelihood. Instead, life is a passion to pursue, a mission to finish, and a vision to reach. In Acts 13:25 he refers to John the Baptizer finishing his work. Later he writes: “But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 20:24). Note also his climactic, rear-view declaration, “…I have finished the race” (2 Tim 4:7).
John raced his time by pointing to the coming Messiah and promoting Him as the only worthy One. Paul raced his time testifying “to the good news of God’s grace.” Both of them ran their unique races and finished their specific courses in God’s marathon relay that includes you and me.
God has organized a marathon relay race that involves his followers in time-specific roles and revolves around the promotion and presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus becomes the intentional content of our life-mission regardless of what we are paid and made to do, we possess the only assured way of not wasting life.
You and I have a race to be run, a crown to be won, a work to be done. We can run our unique race well, fulfilling God’s specific works for us; or we can run our race aimlessly, as Paul fears. (1 Cor. 9:27) We can waste life by merely filling our time; or race time by fulfilling our mission. You can’t stop life’s ticking clock, but you can race time, all the way to the finish line. You too can finish your work. Hasten On!