Rubye and her sisters, Ruth and Rose, have all surpassed 100 years: Rubye by a decade. The sisters lived through the two world wars, influenza and polio epidemics, the development of modern travel–so many “firsts.” These ladies have enjoyed long, productive lives for sure! And they are not alone. In 2010, the number of centenarians surpassed 50,000. Susannah Mushatt Jones, born in 1899, is on record today as the oldest living person—age 116. These lives must be filled with stories of things long past, of loves and losses, joys and sorrows. But even the longest of lives eventually comes to an end—passing suddenly into thin air:
“Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].” James 4:14
We cannot control what happens in our life beyond today. Still, it is just as true that we have much control over what we will leave behind when we are gone. Most think of leaving behind such things as money, land, and family heirlooms. But what will matter the most, and last the longest, will be our influence on others: our family, friends, those we work with, and even those with whom we have a brief encounter somewhere on life’s path. If we are not careful, we may believe that our ordinary lives do not influence those around us. But the truth is something quite different. Every life is an offering to the God Who gave it, and each of us will leave an impact on those who know us:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 1-2
If you live to be a centenarian, you will have 36,500 days on earth–most of them seemingly plain, ordinary days spent eating, working, sleeping, being. What will matter most on that last day will be how well you treated others, how well you loved, and what kind of character dictated your choices. Though the longest of lives is described by God as a vapor, a puff of smoke, a brief time spent on earth, He cares greatly how we live and how we effect others during the time we are given.
Does the reminder that life is brief influence how you will live today? What will you do to ensure that the influence you have on others will be positive and God-honoring?
Amplified Bible, The Message