I only have 33 years to live.
He could have said that but He didn’t.
I’m reminded of this whenever I’m surrounded by the urgent hustle and productivity of modern life. But it’s not just busyness anymore, is it? We have added mission, ministry and purpose into the mix so that more and more the message that if you’re not doing something with your life then you’re not doing anything at all is becoming widespread.
How true is this?
Not so very true.
I want to go back to Jesus again, for most of His life Jesus wasn’t doing anything that made Him stand out of the crowd. He wasn’t moving mountains, making a name for Himself and all that other stuff we supposedly have to get busy doing before we die. The Bible simply states that for the major part of His life, the first 30 years He was busy growing and becoming.
“And the Child continued to grow and become strong, being filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2: 40 BLB)
And Jesus continued to advance in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2: 52 BLB)”
It might seem strange to us of today to find someone with advance knowledge of how long they would be gracing this planet with their presence to not strive to make each second and each moment count. But He didn’t rush around, or feel a need to rush around – Yeshua never rushed at all (OK only once when He was whipping the temple into shape – and if the narrated video version of John is anything to go by – it wasn’t exactly rushing but more of a motivated force).
Why? Because He already knew what He was supposed to be doing with His time.
But, before I go into that there is something else that strikes me. He spent 30 years preparing for just 3 years of His life. It’s those 3 years we recount the most but the 30 years before that were really important and valuable too, without those first 30 years of growing, increasing, becoming and being filled with grace and wisdom there wouldn’t really be a last 3.
Social media is great, but it has a place. One of the pitfalls of social media is this reining message that you only have a limited amount of time to make a difference in the world, and that you have to figure out what to do with your time to make your life count.
You never see a seed just become a tree, or an egg just become a fully-fledged bird do you? Then why do human beings feel like there isn’t a process, a time and a season for them too?
There is something called preparation and growth which can’t be rushed – and sometimes the more meaningful and impactful the work you are meant to do the longer that time will be. Look at the ratio of prep time to ministry time Yeshua had, but He never grumbled about it. What did He do instead? He lived His life.
The Bible shows us that Jesus knew how He was going to use His time. We have the example from when he spent 3 days in the temple as a boy, His response to His parents’ concerns were:
“Why is it that you were seeking Me? Did you not know that it behooves Me to be in the house of My Father?” (Luke 2: 49 BLB)
Some versions translate this as going about my Fathers business, but the key point here was that He knew what He was and wasn’t supposed to be doing with His time. Even when He started His ministry, we see examples of Him being on purpose in His work because He is doing the work the Father pre-ordained Him to do.
For I have come down from heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of the One having sent Me. (John 6: 38 BLB)
How did He know, because He spent the time before that listening, growing and being filled up with wisdom and the Grace of God.
Somebody recently said that your brain beliefs whatever message you consistently feed it. This can be a really good thing if you set yourself to meditate on the right things consistently. For example, God’s word never says to worry about finding your calling or purpose, that’s what man says because your time could run out. But that’s fear talking, and God doesn’t do fear.
Imagine if you were in Jesus’ shoes, and you kept telling yourself over and over again “I only have 33 years to live”. What kind of effect would that have on you? You’d probably be really motivated to get busy, find it difficult to stop, rest, wait, listen, experience contentment, peace, joy – you might even get anxious, worried and depressed if it went too far right?
But we say that to ourselves every time we embrace similar sorts of message about our life, it’s like we don’t trust that God has a better plan for our life.
What if you changed the message that you fed your brain by just taking the only out. “I have 33 years to live.” You’ve just removed one word and it has a totally different feel to it, a totally different impact.
I don’t think that Yeshua would be a hypocrite and say that He came for us to live a more abundant life only to want us to spend our time worrying about what that life might look like.
Here’s what I think, and granted it’s just my opinion but I do feel it has some merit.
I think that if you decided to focus on growing into yourself, living as truly and authentically as you can then the purpose, calling, ministry, work that God has pre-ordained you to do will overtake you.
Just like the world doesn’t need another life coach, the world doesn’t need you trying to make your life count in some way. What it needs is someone who has a story to share, a hand that reaches out, a heart that embraces, someone who has lived and in living grown into and become the person who can fulfil their calling.
What do you think?
Florence Achama Ukpabi
I am a teacher by nature, and a deep and reflective thinker that’s probably what has taken me down the route of psychology, counselling and pastoral care. No matter where you are I believe that there is always space for change and growth, a new you that emerges out of the ashes or maybe even the real you. I am a strong advocate of self-expression and teaching people how to live more authentically and on purpose using Biblical truths and principles and a touch of psychology too, you can find me over at Faith Health Potential and also find me pinning and posting images and words of encouragement on Pinterest Facebook, Instagram andTwitter.