Stretching before you, further than the eye can see, lays the New Year. It consists of 365 Days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536, 000 seconds. In the course of the next year you’ll take approximately 8,000,000 breaths, you’ll blink over 11.5 million times, and you’ll spend over 100 days sleeping–assuming you sleep 7 hours a night.
All of these are given. However, there are many blocks of time, both large and small, that await your decision as to how they will be spent. If you’re an average husband and father you’ll spend more time talking with your fellow employees than your wife and you’ll spend more hours listening to the radio and watching television than listening to your children. You’ll spend more time thinking about how you can please your boss than how you can please those closest to you. This isn’t the beginning of a guilt trip, just the reciting of a few facts based on years of research by people who study how men spend their time.
Of course, none of us can control things like breathing and blinking. And we must sleep every night to stay alert and healthy. But we can control who we live for. Ultimately, on December 31st 2013, when you reflect on how you spent the previous year, you’ll either smile or frown. If you decided on December 31st, 2012, to order your life around God and those who will be crying at your funeral, chances are you’ll smile at the end of the year. Why? Because you’ll have spent time each day alone with God, your wife and your family.
Never forget, a little time each day adds up to a lot of time over a year. If you spend ten minutes with God a day it will add up to 3,650 minutes or sixty hours alone with your heavenly Father during 2013. If you choose to listen to your wife 30 minutes a day it will add up to 10,950 minutes or 182.5 hours over the course of the year. The same is true of 30 minutes a day listening to your kids.
You won’t become a godly man in one day. And you won’t become a great husband or dad in just 24 hours. But if you chose to love God and your family one day at a time you’ll discover that over the course of a year you’ll become a different man–a godlier man who loves his wife and children more than he did a year earlier.
Don’t be deceived into thinking it’s meaningless to number your days. It isn’t. And don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s easy. It’s not. Indeed, the psalmist pleaded with God to help him do just that. In Psalm 39:4 he cried out, “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” In Psalm 90:12 he uttered a similar prayer but mentioned why he wanted to diligently count every day. He said, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
Ultimately, if we’re going to live one day at a time for God and our family, we’ll need God to give us a sense of priority and urgency. And if he does that, we’ll give him the gift of a life lived wisely.
Can you see the New Year stretching out before you? Don’t try to see the end from the beginning. That would be a waste of effort since you can’t see it yet. But you can see the first day of the year and a few days beyond that. Ask God to enable you to value those days. And each day that follows–one day at a time. Plead with him to motivate you to live each day for those who love you the most and whom you cherish most dearly. If you do–you’ll not only smile on December 31st, 2013, you’ll smile each day along the way.