How to make your life really count

I hurriedly buckled my son up in his car seat, slid the door of the minivan shut, and reached for my own door.
Hoping to be safely in my seat before the oncoming traffic sent me hurling through the air, I was in no mood for a lengthy conversation.
I had precariously parked on the side of a narrow and busy street so my family could take part in one of our favorite pastimes browsing through a thrift shop.
Having discovered nothing that was suitable for purchasing, I was risking my life to corral my family back into the van.
Just as I was about to slide into the safety of the driver’s seat, I was interrupted by the sight of a middle-aged lady running toward me as fast as she could.
Keeping one eye on her out of politeness and the other eye on a rapidly approaching semi, I impatiently listened as she praised the way I had demanded obedience from my rambunctious son while we were in the store.
Although I appreciated the compliment, I was preoccupied with the urgency of getting both of us off the street before being swept up by the side-view mirror of a passing vehicle.
Then she said something that caught my attention.
In the midst of a rambling monologue about how she had raised her own children, she mentioned her 39-year-old son who was “quite a bit older than you.”
Wait a minute.
How old does she think I am, anyway?
What this woman did not know was that just a few weeks earlier my wife had thrown a party for me.
As I perused the gifts that piled up on the table, part of the reason for the gathering became obvious.
Smiling courteously, I opened the packages that contained the obligatory muscle cream, reading glasses and M&M’s re-labeled as anti-aging pills.
I also received a handy fold-up cane and a large bottle of prune juice.
Yes, you guessed it. I’m turning 40.
I have attended many “over-the-hill” parties, but they were always for other people.
I have presented some of my aging friends with these same obnoxious gifts. This is supposed to happen to my “older” friends, not me.
It just seems like yesterday that I was playing with my Tonka trucks, Fisher Price people and Weebles in the sand behind our house in southwestern Michigan.
The years I spent growing up and transitioning into adult life seem like a blur.
It’s almost like skipping to a new section on a DVD. Instead of me playing in the back yard, all of a sudden now it’s my children out there.
Forty is halfway to 80.
I recently saw a report that estimated the average life expectancy of Americans at about 78. Although we all hope to live well beyond 80, this should give us something to ponder.
If the first half of my life has disappeared so quickly, what can I expect from the second half?
Turning 40 does not bother me.
I am continuing to learn new things and develop as a person and a pastor.
I anticipate many great experiences in the future. However, the perceived acceleration of time makes me stop and consider how short life really is.
None of us has the promise of making it to 80.
We are not even guaranteed the luxury of another breath. It is no wonder that the Bible refers to life as “a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).
I have no idea how long I will live, and neither do you. That is the reason it is vitally important that we make each day count. Pursuing fame and fortune will prove to be empty and unfulfilling. The only way to find worth is to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, living out faith in Him by obedience to His commands.
Everything else is an exercise in futility.
Are you making your life count?
Ben Hammond has been the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bremen since 2008. He and his wife Lori have four children. He is also working on his doctorate at Grace Theological Seminary, and enjoys spending time on the water. You can visit him at