I picked up an audio book from the library a couple of weeks ago: The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945 by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. Since I started listening to it, it has held me in its grip.
I was born 5 years after the end of World War 2, but it affected my life because it touched and changed my parents' lives so deeply.
I don't think I'll ever stop trying to understand what it was like for them. I'm not sure why it's so important to me--it was, after all, 70 years ago when it all began. I just know that it is; although the more I learn about war the more questions I have to which there seem to be no answers.
The book follows the lives of several ordinary Americans through those years. Their experiences are pieced together through journals and letters, one of them the diary of a young American girl in the Philippines who spent the war in a Japanese internment camp.
Courtships were whirlwind and intense. "You lived your life realizing that you didn't have a lot of time," wrote one young pilot. And that statement captivated my thoughts because at least they realized it.
We live our lives as though we are going to be here forever, but this morning as I sat in church I looked around at the congregation and thought that in 50 years there would be a whole different congregation in the pews. Well, maybe there will be some Burstons, Parkers, Stewarts, Geyers and Furuyas scattered amongst the congregation--but if there are, they will be our grandchildren or their children.
I think it's a good thing to have a sense of how brief this portion of life is. It has to help you focus better on what's important.
And I'm getting more excited about what's next! In our cell group last week we were discussing God's eternalness and how time itself is a human limitation. We are stuck on a linear track, living moment by moment, while God has no such boundary. Past, present and future all seem to have more of a fluid nature and I think that we have no idea how incredible it will be to experience that.
For now, we are here, plodding along, grounded, but it's a very good thing to recognize, as the people in the book could not help but do, that, "You don't have a lot of time."
Do what matters.
Psalm 39:4 (New International Version, ©2010)
4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
Psalm 90:12 (New International Version, ©2010)
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.