Living in the Bonus

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Rankin-Devotional“The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…for as soon as it is cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10 (KJV)

Tomorrow is another birthday. They seem to come more often as the years flow by faster and faster. I thought they would slow down once I retired but maintaining a busy lifestyle keeps the pages of the calendar turning. In the early years of human history, people lived for hundreds of years; but as the earth was populated and generations multiplied, expected life spans shortened.

I remember hearing a sermon on “Living in the Hyphen.” Tombstones record one’s date of birth and death with a hyphen in between. That hyphen represents one’s entire lifetime and all that was done. The Psalmist reflected that God-allotted 70 years as the normal tenure of one’s life though some would be blessed to live beyond that. I really don’t expect to live to 114 such as the oldest known person in the world (somewhere in Japan), but having surpassed 70 I am now living in the bonus years.

There is an increasing awareness that each year of life is a blessing from God. Each year He blesses with continued health and strength is not just for the purpose of watching another sunrise from the rocking chair in my sun room, but for using each day to walk in obedience and seeking to glorify Him.

I don’t know a pastor who relishes the responsibility of conducting funerals. When the deceased are advanced in age, no longer enjoy quality of life and go on to their heavenly reward the scripture is understandable–”Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm ). But when death takes one pre-maturely through an accident or illness providing comfort is more difficult.

Leading a large mission organization, I never got used to the funerals. They were constant. We live in a fallen world, but it was difficult to understand why God allowed the life of one devoted to sharing the gospel in a lost world to be cut short. I recall standing over a casket of a colleague much younger than I and realizing I would be there someday. I later shared my reflections with my children and said that whenever the time came it would be all right. There were still many things undone and a lot I would like to have done differently, but I have sought to be obedient to God’s leading and live for Him. Whenever life’s journey would end there would be no regrets.

I have marked the allotted three-score and ten and am now marking the bonus years. The reality of Lamentations 3:22-23 is more of a reality than ever before: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.” I am more and more aware of God’s faithfulness. I cannot claim credit for the fact that I have lived longer than others nor take pride is what He has allowed me to accomplish in the hyphen of my life.

Realizing this life will end sooner or later, the Psalmist concludes, “Therefore, teach us to number our days that we may have a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). One should never presume upon a life that is longer than normal nor begrudge one that is unexpectedly shortened. Our mortality is a reminder to live each day to the fullest as a gift of God’s grace, not as an entitlement but as a bonus opportunity to serve the Lord.

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