Broken Dishes and Wasted Time

The other day I was helping my mom with dinner clean-up and made a mistake that I immediately regretted. As I was scrubbing a glass bowl in the sink and reaching over to put it in the dishwasher, I accidentally let it slip out of my hand. The bowl was wet, and I didn’t have a good enough grip on it. Upon contact with our tiled kitchen floor, the bowl shattered instantly.

Man, I wanted to kick myself. That particular bowl was at least 50 years old. It was part of a dinnerware set that my mom inherited from her grandma after her grandma passed away.

I knew I wasn’t the only one who had broken a dish from that collection, but, as I swept the broken pieces off of the floor, I wished I had held that little bowl more firmly in my hand and not let it slip away. I wished I had been more careful and not been in such a hurry. I thought about how my family has only a limited number of those dishes and how, thanks to me, we now have one fewer.

Later, as I was thinking about that incident and wishing I could somehow have a do-over, a thought crossed my mind: just like my family has only a limited number of those antique dishes, so too each one of us only has a limited number of days on earth. The Bible is very clear on this:

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle … my life is a breath. | Job 7:6-7

My days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. | Psalm 102:3

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. | James 4:14

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. | Psalm 103:15-16

My lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! | Psalm 39:5

When I broke that little dish, I instantly regretted it and felt sad. But when I waste a day by doing nothing of long-term value, do I regret that?

I know I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth harping on.

Because doesn’t life have greater clarity when you realize how brief it is?

Don’t your feel your priorities changing when life’s brevity comes into view? Doesn’t God’s calling on your heart seem more important when you look up and realize you might already be one-third or one-half or two-thirds of the way through your life?

Compared to broken and wasted material things, how much sadder and more convicted should I feel about time I’ve wasted, days I’ve let slip through my fingers? Am I remorseful for opportunities I’ve neglected and moments I’ve squandered? Do I learn my lesson, or keep wasting days as if I had an endless supply of them?

Today, I propose a simple challenge for you and me:

let’s realize the value of our days.

Material possessions can usually be replaced. Lost time, not so much.

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! | Psalm 39:4

As Moses wrote in the beautiful 90th Psalm:

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. | Psalm 90:12

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