God, I Want to Ask You
Seven Questions When Facing Death
The Second Question
"May I Have More Time?"
Note to God:
Lord, I am not ready to go. There are things I want to do, places I want to see, people I do not want to leave. Will You make me well or give me more time? If so, I will live for You.
Many years ago I visited the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Built over many years by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, the mansion is an amazing place. Entire rooms from European castles were imported and incorporated. Beautiful grounds with exotic animals surround it. Our tour ended at a not-quite-finished indoor pool. Our guide explained that Hearst died before finishing it. "He just ran out of time," she said.
The day the doctor diagnosed my ailment as a terminal illness, it was as though he had said, "You have run out of time..."
- To do all I had planned to do in life,
- To experience all that I had hoped to experience,
- To spend all the time I longed to spend with my family,
- To become the person I wanted to become.
Sound familiar? At best, our time is short. I once read that by age 35 a person has only 500 days remaining to spend as he pleases. Subtract from the next 36 years time spent sleeping, traveling, working, dressing, doing chores and other necessities and only 500 days are left. That is not very many, and when terminal illness comes along, the brevity of life is painfully apparent.
Understandably, we cry for more time. Shortly after my diagnosis, I went to a nearby state park where I often hiked. At a scenic point overlooking the river winding down the valley, I lifted my hands to God and asked Him to heal me. That was the first - but not the last time I would so pray.
Like me, you may be praying for miraculous healing. Short of that, you may be praying to live long enough to attend a special occasion, to complete an important task, or to see another person.
I am convinced that God hears our prayers, and that hearing, He answers. That is not to say we will all be healed. There is a mystery about divine healing that I have never penetrated. While some are healed, others are not. But I am persuaded that all are heard and answered.
His answer to us all is this: He will help us make the best use of the time remaining. Whether that is a day or a decade He does not say. However, He is on record promising to help us wisely use that time. The oldest psalm in the Bible says, "For it [life] is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." This prayer of Moses from Psalm 90 becomes a promise when united with faith. It shows us how to pray in the face of life's brevity. We should pray that since our days are limited, we will use them wisely.
That is a prayer God will surely answer. He wants to impart wisdom to us our whole lives long (Proverbs 1:20-23). He does not stop giving us insight because our time is shorter than we had thought. Equipped with His wisdom, we discover the best use of our time whether our days are many or few.
The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom. Most importantly, it says that wisdom starts when we are rightly related to God. The Old Testament puts it this way: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: And the knowledge of the Holy [ God] is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). In other words, the wisest thing a person can do, given hours or decades to live, is to live in a right relationship to God.
More light is shed upon living in a right relationship to God when we come to the New Testament. There we learn that Christ Jesus is "wisdom from God" (1 Cor. 1:24) and that we are to be "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). Simply stated, to turn to God, we must turn to Christ. He not only reveals God, but He also bridges the gulf between God and us, which was created by our misdeeds. Turning to God through Christ is the wisest thing one can possibly do.
Wisdom begins by being rightly related to God, and it advances by being rightly related to others. In the New Testament letter by James we are told, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (3:17). The wisdom of the world tells us to place value on pleasure, wealth, rights, and assertiveness. The wisdom of God is very different. While the wisdom of the world places things over people, the wisdom of God puts people over things.
How are your relationships? Starting with your family, can you say you have done your best to be on good terms with everyone in your circle? If not, then with the time allotted you by God, take steps to mend those relationships. Pay a debt. Write a letter of apology. Seek a distant child. Visit a neglected friend. These are wise things to do.
How much time will God give you and me? We don't know. All we do know is that when we daily seek to love God and others, we always make the best use of our time.