You looked forward to this trip for many years. The whole family is gathering. It has been years since everyone has been able to be in the same place at the same time. There is laughter. There are stories from the past. Pictures are taken to preserve the moment. As you begin to talk about making plans for the next gathering you realize that this same group will likely never be together again. You are reminded that this is a temporary dwelling.
Your cabin is rustic and weathered. You intentionally selected a secluded place for this retreat. It is quiet. The mountain-view is spectacular. With a mug of hot coffee in one hand and the book you have been looking forward to reading in the other you seat yourself in the chair on the balcony listening to the birds sing and the river flow. You take a deep breath as you feel all the cares and anxieties of your life gently shifting to a place far, far away. You take a deep breath and relax. The days pass too quickly and you realize that this is a temporary dwelling.
You are a long way from home. You know you are there for a purpose and while you are there you are determined to fulfill that purpose. You see it as your mission. The language is different. The food is different. The methods of transportation are different. The culture is different. Everything is different from what you are familiar. You feel more homesick that you have ever felt. You get an email from your family. The email reminds you that this is a temporary dwelling.
Your annual check-up seemed to come early this year. It seems like it has been only a few weeks since your last one. Has it really been a year? The conversation with your doctor includes phrases like: "You are not as young as you once were" and "you have no business climbing up on that ladder," and "I think the stress of your job has taken a toll. It may be time to think about slowing down a bit." As you walk toward the lab with a cup in your hand you are reminded this is a temporary dwelling.
You watch as your son and your daughter-in-law work together to get their brand new daughter (your granddaughter) dressed in her little outfit that seems to have an unbelievable amount of snaps. It does not seem so long ago that you and your wife were working together as you learned to care for your son. As you allow your imagination to run wild, you get way ahead of yourself as you daydream about what life will be like when this granddaughter has her own family. As you snap back into reality you are reminded that this is a temporary dwelling.
More times than I can count I have joined in as John Denver sang:
The days they pass so quickly now,
Nights are seldom long.
And time around me whispers when it's cold.
The changes somehow frighten me,
Still I have to smile.
It turns me on think of growing old.
(Poems, Prayers and Promises, 1971.)
(see this video here: http://hlt.me/vAvfyk)
The Psalmist wrote:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12 NIV).
Chris Rice shares the same message:
Teach us to count our days. Teach us to make our days count ("Life Means So Much").
(see this beautifully done video here: http://hlt.me/s1EQXB)
James said it this way:
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15 NIV).
On a daily basis we are faced with the reality that we exist on this earth in a temporary dwelling. In the blink of an eye the world changes, days turn into years, and the blessings from God continue to flow. Life means so much. Treasure each moment. Live everyday to the fullest. What you do with this day is extremely important. Focus on the important things. Your relationship with God. Your family. Your legacy. Sharing your faith stories. You do not know how much time you have. Remember this is a temporary dwelling.