Like a happy puppy, another birthday just galumphed up next to me, doing its best to get my attention. Again this year, I am glad to consider the blessings of my past, my satisfaction with the present and my hopes for the future. As the total years of my life add more and more numerals, it becomes a frequent feature of my waking moments to ask, “How much longer?”
The question can serve as a motivator for action instead of a source of anxiety. Stepping around its possible dystopian cadences—“Your days are numbered, so be fearful.”—I can instead use this question as a way to sing about each day with high expectations of its opportunities. Instead of worrying that I have only a limited amount of time in which to live a God-pleasing life, I can cherish each of those days even more. I can wade into today—and the future—without perseverating about approaching death and destruction.
“How much longer?” questions may not go away—the Birthday Puppy tells me that logically there are fewer years available to me to live as God wills. Still, my task—on this day and for the years to come—is to seek constantly a positive and purposed view of the future. Not to give in to growing difficulties or dangers. Not to pack away my gifts and passions as though they belong in the dust bins of history. To remain fiercely devoted to all that Jesus embodied and commanded. To populate every answer to these questions with joyful and grateful anticipation of what’s next.
So you understand me clearly about this natal feast day: I am happy to be alive, and any questions about the time remaining in my life are soaked in that joy. I live gratefully, hopefully and purposefully. I am not afraid of the future, no matter its length. I exult in the prayer of Psalm 90:12. “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
The Birthday Puppy and I agree.