Friday, 03 April 2015 19:38

Itís Later Than You Think

Written by  Mike and Lisa Conn
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Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Mike was recently reading from Focus on the Family’s book,Great Stories Remembered 2, when he came upon a story that touched his heart.  A bereaved woman in a hospital was all alone.  A compassionate doctor who looked quite fatigued came to sit with her.  Later when she asked a nurse about him, she commented that he was at the hospital day and night.


Years later, the woman wrote him a letter.  She explained that she had been visiting a lovely garden and had come upon a brass plate on the garden wall.  The plate read, “Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.”  She encouraged the doctor, for his own sake, to sit down and consider those words.  “Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.”


That night the doctor could not sleep.  He remembered a time in the past when he took a week off from work.  Upon returning, he realized that his patients had received excellent care and had even thrived while he was away.


Finally, the doctor called his best friend and asked him to go to South America with him for a few weeks.  At first the friend felt he could not possibly take time off.  But after contemplating the words, “It’s later than you think,” he changed his mind. 


In a large South American city they met a wealthy man.  When asked if he ever played golf, the man replied that he never had the time for such enjoyment.  His wife and children were travelling in the US, but he had been unable to go with them because of his work.  The doctor and his friend shared the story of the garden plate: “Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.”  The next morning, the business man was amazed that those words had such a profound effect upon him.  He decided to join his wife and children on holiday.


The doctor shared at the end of the story that his friend lived only a few years more.  He spent the last hours at his bedside.  Over and over again he said,  “I am so happy that we went to South America together.  I thank God we did not wait too long.”


God wants us to be wise in how we use our time, for the days are fleeting and time with loved ones is precious.  The Bible says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)  Many of us get so caught up in our day-to-day work that we forget to rest and enjoy what God has given us.  The demands on our life dominate our time and sap our energy until we have nothing left for God, our family or for ourselves.


A few days after reading that story, Mike and I received an email from a dear friend from Air Force years whose son is now a Marine Captain.  She shared another touching narrative with us.  The correspondent, an elderly aunt, said in her email:


I’m not anticipating any problems, health-wise, etc., but we just lost our former pastor totally unexpectedly last Sunday from an aorta aneurism - mid 60s.  They had just had a “Marriage Encounter” weekend, staying with friends.  One of the exercises was to take quite a long time to write a letter of appreciation to the spouse.  They were tired afterwards, but he wanted to read his to her.  She said let’s wait till we get to our own home, but he said no, I want to do it now.  After that he didn’t feel right, then I guess collapsed, and was gone.


I know the wife, in her bereavement, was so thankful for the time she spent with her husband at the marriage weekend and that she allowed him to read her the love letter just before he died.


Seven times a year, Mike and I conduct 5-week “Family Teams for Life” training programs in partnership with the Maxwell AFB Chapel for couples attending Squadron Officer School.  Only a few are able to bring their families with them.  Here’s a common story we hear during every program:  “My husband has been gone 120 days in the last 6 months.  He is being deployed in July for another 6 months.  We’ll take advantage of any time we can get together!”


These couples acutely feel the need to make each day together count.  They live with the knowledge that the active duty airman or soldier could lose his life at any time, whether they are in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even at home.  Just a few weeks ago, a special forces Army helicopter went down in Florida during a training exercise.  Seven Marines and four Army crew members aboard were killed, leaving widows and fatherless children behind. 


So whether we are married or single, young or old, military or civilian, let us all remember to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom, because it’s later than we think.





Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:40
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