How to Live When You Only Have So Much Time Left [Pt. 1]

Yeah, who knows how long we’ve got?

Somebody answer us that.

Somebody get up on your tipsy soapbox and wring just that out of a grimy, holy world.

Flip over your neat little nursing chart and scan the scans of our broken hearts that somehow just keep on beating brave and you run your finger along all the fracture lines and just tell us that — how long have we got.

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Tell us that we’ve got more than a few days —

That it looks like we’ll make it through the next seven sunrises, even though we’ll likely not even notice the miracle of it, but we’ll still get to drive in late to church again next Sunday, and there’ll be burnt soup after service that we’ll swallow down, and there’s a chance we’ll be glad of the tasting and seeing and for one widening moment, we might even wake to how good He is.

Or tell us that we’ve got at least a few months to a few years, that the cells won’t start going haywire somewhere in the body until the kids at least get close to 16, till we almost get them to edge of the nest and know that their wings will hold, that they could take to the thermals and ride, that they could beat a thousand feathers through a thousand storms and get to the other side, that we all be together on the other side.

Or tell us that it looks like we’ve got at least a decade left — or maybe don’t.

Maybe if you told us that we had ten whole spins around the sun left, we’d be duped into thinking there was time to fritter away the breathing with flipping channels or flipping fingers or flipping lids, as if that ever made the living better instead of distastefully bitter.

Yeah, go ahead and rattle the door all you want, but there ain’t no one who is going to tell you how long you have. You’re going to have to figure out how to live without knowing when you die.

You’re going to have to get it: Death may be certain, but when it comes is uncertain, which is what makes the living gloriously uncertain — a choice.

Who knows if you’ve really got time to clean out the garage, or to read this endless news feed, or to pick up and move to Haiti and live your dream of spending the fleeting time holding the hands of forgotten ones.

The road ahead would seem obvious if you knew how much road ahead there was.

No one tells you that. No one tells you if you have just enough time to laugh till your belly hurts, one more time with the beautifully strange people you love, if you have time to pull their neck close and whisper hoarse in their ear that there aren’t enough words to say what a love like this has done to you.

No one tells you if you have enough time to try to change the world or just enough time to try change your own story.

If you knew how much time you have to live, you’d know how to live.

But that is the thing: You don’t know how much time you have to live — so you have to make time to make the life you want to live.

No one can tell you how much time you’ve got for what matters. Only you can tell how much time you’ll make for what matters.

Everyone knows they will die. They just don’t know when. So forget about the when. Who cares when you die. The real question is: when will you start to live?

You already know: You will die.

So the only question that remains is: Will you live?

Will you risk impossible things today so you remember how much you love the rush of real oxygen in your lungs, adrenaline in your veins?

Will you forget thinking there is no way out– only a way through? Sometimes the only way through is not taking the next step — it’s taking a wild leap of faith. Take it. Do it. Live it.

When will you lay there just to listen to the sound of him breathing in sleep beside you?

When will you memorize the way her hair feels as you stroke it back from her brow? When will you bend over the cup and inhale the steam of tea and breathe in living? When will you have time to walk in the woods with no place to go but looking up?

When will you be done with the armed way of living, the harmful way of living — when will you drop the arms you’ve crossed in front of you like some cynical shield, steeling you from really feeling?

When will you join the brave and move the crossed arms into open hands, into open hands to receive and really feel the glory that is called life as it falls into them

How syrup saturates the pancakes and wind can lift your hair at the roots and how you can feel grounded just by inhaling. How tears can fall like rain and wash your wounds right clean, how those wounds are beauty marks that make you one of the medalled warriors. How there is common grace everywhere but it is startling uncommon to taste it on the tip of your tongue or feel it pulse through you.

The question isn’t: How long have I got to live?

The point is simply: You got to live. You get to live. Today.

There is snow clinging to window panes today.

There is breathing that can cling to sheer Glory today. Sheer Grace — sheer God.

Yeah, who knows —

What would happen if you treated everyone you met today as if they only had 12 hours left to live?

Somebody could answer their day with that.

I can hear it from the kitchen sink —

The hands on the clock ticking like a miracle about to detonate into sheer glory.

 

 

 

Related:
Part 2 of “How to Live When You Have So Much Time” Tomorrow
How to Keep Going Through All the Dark Places

Resources:
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