James Foley was ruthlessly murdered by Islamic terrorists. A video of his beheading has been posted on the internet by the terrorists in hopes of inciting fear throughout the world. Though I have not and will not watch the video, I understand that just before he is murdered he says on the video these heart wrenching words: “I wish I had more time.” Our hearts go out to his family. But his words and death teach us a very important lesson–none of us know what life will bring our way the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day or the next year. All of us wish we had more time.
The patriarchs lived into the hundreds of years but even their lives were relatively short. When you compare a hundred years or even a thousand years with eternity, you realize that you don’t even begin to scratch the surface of time. But no matter how much time we are given in this life, we are really never quite ready when it is taken away from us or those we love. The time you and I are given in this life is so precious, so very precious. But sometimes we act as if we have all the time in the world and we really don’t. We should “remember how short my time is” (Psalm 89:47).
Even when I was younger I realized time was fleeting. I was never one of those who felt that I was invincible or that time would never catch up with me. I know I have not always used my time wisely, however, even though I knew I should not waste it. But one of the hardest tasks in life is to keep consistently focused on the important things. The cares of this world tend to choke the life out of us, if we are not ever vigilant and sober (Matt. 13:22). All too often we spend our time on the frivolous and mundane and do not give proper attention to the things which are eternal (II Cor. 4:1). Because we are given so precious little time, we should redeem every second of it (Eph. 5:16).
The ironic thing is that God wants to give us all the time there is! He has promised us everlasting life (John 3:6)! The Lord has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (II Tim. 1:10). If we could only realize that we are given a short period of time here in this life to develop our own character to be like God’s, then God will bless us with everlasting life (I John 5:13; Jude 21). Do we want to lay hold on eternal life? Then we must fight the good fight of faith (I im. 6:12). The promise of life is ours if we want it, the way to obtain has been made known to us, all we have to do is to lay hold on it!
We must realize that the fortunes of this life are not always under our control. Sometimes our lives are tragically taken from us by a horrible accident. At other times it is taken by some demented sadist, as in the case of Foley. Sometimes we face hardships and troubles so intense, that, under those circumstances, it is easy to understand the desire for these to come to an end. Even Paul had a desire to depart and to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). We cannot know what the morrow may bring us (Prov. 27:1). Therefore, we must always be ready (Mark 13:37).
Therefore we must continue to fight the good fight of faith and to do all that we can possibly do in this life so that when that when this life does come to a close for us we may say with the apostle Paul, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8).
Eric L. Padgett