NOT JUST 7 UP
The "7" UP documentary series is considered the most influential documentary of all time. It is currently airing on SBS Television in Australia as "56 UP". It portrays the lives of several English people by showing them from age 7 and visiting them every 7 years to see how their lives have panned out. Some of the stories are heart-warming. Some of their stories are heart-breaking.
It's almost surreal to watch the lives of people age from 7 to 56 in just 30 minutes! It puts the brevity of every human life into a very confronting reality. This is made all the more real as each of the subjects featured in the documentary series discusses their individual regrets. Several of them had big "If only I had..." regrets. It made me wonder how many of us live without a sense that our lives are fleetingly short?
¶ So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Some people waste their lives. They exist more than they live. They spend their lives rather than invest their lives. When they suffer a setback, they don't getback they seek payback. This bitterness they harbour robs them of valuable years that could have been fruitful and productive. As a pastor who has been by the bedside of dying people, I have too often heard the pain of regret and the realisation from those whose lives were nearly over that bitterness and unforgiveness has calously lied to and stolen from them. Life is short.
¶ "O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!Psalm 39:4
Your life will be over sooner than you realise. At the end of your life you will either leave a legacy or you will just leave. For some, their lives will have made the world a better place because they lived with purpose, direction, reverence and thankfulness to God. Some precious souls have lived lives which by general standards have been too short - yet they have contributed more to the world in their brief lifetimes than most because they invested their time rather than spent it. They refused to allow petty unforgiveness and bitterness rob them of their rightful peace. They lived out their dream by walking a strait and narrow path rather than wandering and meandering to no where in particular.
¶ A voice says, "Cry!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
I don't know how long my life will be. But before I go, I hope that I can fulfil the dream in my heart to have preached, written, or taught on every verse in the Bible in a way that will help people to love not just the Word of God, but most especially, the God of the Word. This dream involves pastoring a growing dynamic church of people who hunger for God's Word, who crave to have a deeper understanding of it, and passionately share their faith with well-reasoned thought-bombs that lead others to trust Christ. For me, each Sunday is another opportunity for us to invest our time and advance this dream. I don't want us to waste our lives and get to the end of our lives feeling that we had failed to even attempt to fulfil our grand dream. This sentiment is beautifully captured in the opening scene of the animated classic "UP" -
Leadership guru, John Maxwell, says that he can tell where a person is going by spending just one day with them. He says that how a person spends their day is the best indicator for where their life is going. Please don't waste your days. Please don't neglect what is truly important (devotion to God through prayer, Scripture, church, worship, family). Please don't allow pettiness, unforgiveness, or bitterness to steal your destiny.
Some people live their lives to make a name for themselves. They don't care who they hurt or abuse to get there. These people live highly regrettable lives. Others live for "simpler" purposes. The UP documentary series has powerfully reminded me of how easy it is though to have the dreams of our childhood and youth evaporate. But these simple childlike dreams of living lives of meaning, happiness, love and purpose are not gradiose and they are certainly not unattainable. But they are only attainable if we apply Matthew 6:33 and live for God's glory. At Legana we have a dream to help make life better for people by helping them to invest their lives in what really counts. But this dream is too big for me to handle or even deliver. I need your help. Please dream with me. Please invest with me. And hopefully in 7 years we can look back and say it was totally worth it!
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.