Just A Number
As I mentioned on Saturday, today is my Grandma’s 80th birthday. She lived through a huge chunk of the 20th century and is going strong into the 21st. She saw all of the most incredible technological advancements of our era when they were first innovated (and staunchly refused to adopt many of them). She witnessed wars, raised eight kids, and is still around after eighty years to tell about it.
Tonight, Steve Jobs died. He started a company that grew to become one of the dominant forces in computer technology. He pioneered an era of unprecedented advancement, and he started one of the biggest debates of our time: Mac vs. PC. He didn’t live to be sixty.
Today more than usual I’m reminded that age really is just a number. It’s a way to keep track of how much time we’ve spent, but there is no way for us to know how much time we have in the first place. Normally this is the part where people get somber and morbid and say things about living like you were dying and remembering that tomorrow you could wake up dead, but I have something different to say:
It’s so easy for us to get worked up about what’s going to happen in the future – what’s going to happen tomorrow, next year, how many things we have to do to make sure that when we reach our 80th birthdays we’ll be satisfied with our lives – but the truth is that nobody’s promised an 80th birthday. On the other hand, it’s also easy to look at that fact, that we have no guarantee of tomorrow, and worry that tomorrow might not come.
Time is a scary thing to those of us forced to live inside of it because it’s hard for us to deal with its complexity. It’s one of those things that we just can’t control no matter how hard we try, but we refuse to stop trying because it scares us so much, so we plan and we fret and we scheme about ways to cheat time and live longer, get a higher number, but we can’t win. Maybe it’s time we took a different approach.
Let’s quit worrying about how long we have to live and concern ourselves with how well we’re living. Let’s quit worrying about how short life is and take an eternal perspective. Let’s quit worrying about all of the meaningless numbers and start loving all of the priceless people around us. Yes, life is short. Yes, you have no guarantee of tomorrow. So why be afraid of what tomorrow may or may not bring? Do the things that matter most, love God, love people, seek justice, show mercy, and stop worrying. Don’t let the numbers bring you down.