“It’s not the years in a life, but the life in those years.” So states this widely known and used maxim. While its original author is unknown, this adage utters much wisdom and perspective on the priorities of life. People from most walks of life, both Christian and non-Christian, have resonated with this concept, hence the quote’s popularity and broad usage. However, while the latter clings to this as the one thing that matters, the last hope, and the end goal, the Christian recognizes a deeper truth and meaning.
We are each given a set number of years, for some their allotment exceeds a century, others less than a decade. But no matter where one falls on this wide spectrum, the truth is that once this earthly life is over all will face eternity. We were wired and built for it, as the renowned sage of Ecclesiastes wrote, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” and eternity is where we’re all headed and destined for.
Consequently, this short, earthly, mortal life is merely an iota compared to the eternity awaiting us.
While this is difficult to wrap our finite minds around, author Randy Alcorn wonderfully likes life to geometric ray, which starts as a point or dot attached to a line extending endlessly in one direction. The point or dot is like our earthly life, so small in comparison with boundless space, while the endless line represents eternity. Although the dot may seem miniscule and insignificant in comparison to the line, what we do with the dot dictates the future and direction of the eternal line.
So the analogy is don’t live your life only for the dot, but fix your goal upon the line. At the same time, however, don’t waste your time during the dot, but use it wisely and eternally focused, because the dot will determine the course of the line. Therefore, live for the line not the dot, but still make the most use out of the brief moment on this earth.
Back to our opening quote, “It’s not the years in a life, but the life in those years.” The non-believer shares it as a word of consolation and solace in the midst of grief or loss; however, the Christian should utter it as a reminder that life is short and to live it well with the purpose and perspective of eternity.
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!”
“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
~Philippians 3:16 (NIV 84)
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