Can you remember learning to count?
Whether you remember or not, when asked how old you were, you solemnly ordered three fingers of your dominant hand to straighten up, and two fingers of that same hand to stand down. “I’m three,” you declared, and pushed the fingers towards the face of the ignorant adult who had asked. You obviously were no longer two.
It was a big deal to count to ten, a bigger deal to join the older kids in learn spouting off the higher numbers. From henceforth, you joined the human race in counting and measuring stuff – including time.
Whether it’s taking a test, or enjoying a date who has a curfew, we like to see how much time we’ve used, and how much we have left. We also use time to measure progress. “At this time last year, I weighed 20 lbs more than I do now,” a successful dieter may say. Readers sometimes count how many books they read in a year.
By the common calendar’s reckoning we are at the end of a year; and not just a year, but a decade. I will turn 60 in 2020. It feels to me like I’m finishing the third quarter of my active life, going into the fourth quarter, so I want to be at my best. In the fourth quarter, you have to focus. No sulking, no excuses. The end of the game is in sight.
Today is the end of a decade. Tomorrow is January 1, 2020. Today is the day for endings, a day to leave things behind. Seize this day! When Jesus was on this earth, he invited people to follow him, to count themselves his disciples. He knew that in order to do that, people would have to leave things behind. “Let the dead bury the dead,” he said to one, because to follow him was life. “Go sell your possessions,” he said to another. “Give it to the poor and then come follow me.” He invited them to emphatically end their old way of life, and to join him in a new life.
What would your life look like if you seriously followed Jesus? How would you connect with him? How would your use of time change? Do you have a sense of where he might lead you?
In William Bridges’ Transitions, he says that in order to have a good beginning, you first need a good ending. So my question today is not, “What is your New Year’s resolution?” But “What are you going to leave in the past?” Make note of it. Bury it. Keep piling on the dirt. Keep replacing it. I’ll be praying for you.