Are you taking advantage?

0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80…

The above is the countdown of our lives or the trajectory if all goes okay to keep the clock ticking and moving on. While the numbers above show a cute linear pattern of movement from one age to another, the majority of what happens in between the stages do not always follow a neat design, and the events that take place between these stages vary from one person to another.

I believe most people, if not everyone wants to live a unique and remarkable life. In fact, it is the reason for the strivings involved in everyday life. It is the reason we study hard, work hard, get married, and aim high etc.

However, in the quest to hit it big, to make something remarkable of ourselves, our families and society, we encounter challenges that throw us off course. If not perceived correctly or managed properly, these life challenges have a way of making us slow down in the pursuit of our dreams; they can sometimes knock the steam out of us, so much so that we can sometimes settle for less. We begin to attend to business as usual rather than focusing on whatever it is we believe is our purpose for living. The big picture gradually gets traded for the here and now.

What we forget though is that time is a limited resource, and the sequence at the beginning of this post never progresses anticlockwise but clockwise. We don’t fully realise the brevity of life just like the scripture above suggests. Tomorrow is a dream, yesterday is history, but today is a gift bestowed to us.

When this year started, I made a wish to take advantage of the time, the resources I had and of being fully alive and well. This decision was to take expression through some specific goals that I had. I set these goals for realisation at a three, six and nine months time frame. It’s now month 6, and I am yet to achieve any of my planned goals.

So you can tell that I am not that composed myself. I feel I have let myself down and should have mastered these things by now. However, I am not prepared to throw a pity party, because I know that I must look ahead. Those who achieve their life goals are not necessarily those who found life the easiest. At this junction, I’m beginning to think of the great Apostle Paul, who, in spite of his imprisonment, trials, and sufferings, was still able to say “I have run my race, I have fought a good fight.”

Paul didn’t have a rosy life; at least not after he embraced the gospel of our Lord, Jesus. He, of all people, should not have been able to finish his course. But he did in spite of all that he went through.

I am therefore encouraged that it is possible for life to be challenging, yet to fulfil one’s purpose. There are times when the struggles of life almost convinces us to stay floating and merely surviving from day to day instead of reaching for the shore – fulfilling our goals.

The truth though is that the finishing line doesn’t just happen. It’s a combination of little things, little efforts and our attitudes on a regular basis. And for us to reach that finishing line, we will need to take advantage of where we are, what we have and take advantage of who we are – as people loved by a great God.

Everyone’s finishing line will differ and require different things but the degree to which we can take advantage of everything going right for us and everything not so good, is the degree to which we will be able to finish our race and live life to the full.

In September last year, I heard of the death of a dearly loved friend, this year in July, we suffered the loss of a dearly loved one. I have noticed that at each point when I have experienced grief, I have immediately been thrust into thinking about my life and what I’m doing with it. It’s no wonder Jesus said it’s better to go to a house of mourning than a wedding feast.

There’s something about death that leaves us thinking about our own lives. Rather than thinking about it occasionally, I want to think about the brevity of life daily so I can apply my heart to wisdom.

So how can we take advantage of life?

I have suggested some ways below:

1. Forget the past. The past is gone and cannot be revisited. Either good or bad, don’t get stuck in your history. Use it to chart a better future, as that’s the best that can come out of it.

2. Embrace the present – today is a gift so don’t waste it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s today that creates the opportunities for tomorrow. Take advantage of everything it has to offer. Whether good or bad, it’s only a matter of time before today gives way to tomorrow.

3. Develop a capacity for tomorrow- tomorrow is a dream, and if you can’t envision it, you can’t realise it. Ensure everything you are doing today contributes towards the future you want to see.

4. Don’t make excuses – we all have been given something so let’s stop making excuses about what we lack. Instead, let’s begin to focus on what we can do with the little we have. Jesus had five loaves and two fishes, yet he fed thousands.

5. Ditch the distractions – choose to remain focused

6. Stand up for something – live life with intention. Find your purpose and live your purpose

7. Keep moving no matter what, no matter how and no matter the pace.

“Teach us to realise the brevity of life
so that we may grow in wisdom
Psalm 90:12.”