I confess that I am a very impatient person. When it comes to driving, my impatience flares up rather quickly, especially living where I do. In our small town, you can pretty much set your cruise control on 35 mph and you can stay with the flow of most local traffic. Nobody around here seems to have much of a sense of urgency.
Does your life have a sense of urgency? So many of us are stuck in a routine, thinking the same things, reacting with a certain predictability to most every circumstance.
What if you suddenly found out the exact number of days that you have existed on this earth? Would it give you more of a sense of urgency? Robert D. Smith one day realized that he’d been alive for exactly 20,000 days, so he took the opportunity to spend 48 hours in a fancy hotel to plan out his NEXT 20,000 days. The result is the book 20,000 Days and Counting.
In the book of Psalms we read, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. Scripture also tells us that a person’s life is like a vapor or a breath (Psalms 39:4-6) and it’s like a “shadow that only temporarily appears” (Ecc. 6:12). If you’ve ever lost a loved one suddenly, you know first hand how fleeting life can be. So what do we do to maximize the uncertain time we have here?
Certainly we all should be seeking to gain wisdom. The book of Proverbs devotes much of its content to the importance of wisdom. Proverbs 8:11 says that wisdom is “better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” Wisdom comes to us in many ways, but often we find wisdom in listening to those wiser than us. Yes, listening, and not talking. Of course this mostly applies to the ultimate source of wisdom, God. God’s wisdom is found throughout the Bible.
Speaking of others, Robert D. Smith points out many times the importance of relationships in our lives. He exhorts us to “say I love you to all those who matter”, and know that everyone matters. He tells us to “maximize your relationships. Be more loving, more forgiving, more unselfish.” Put your heart and your thoughts into others. He even encourages us to give someone a standing ovation every chance you get. Think of all the people who have NEVER gotten a standing ovation. Be an encourager!
So many of us live life without much of a sense of purpose. Robert tells us we should distill down our purpose in life focusing on our strengths and the value that we can bring to others. Make it a few sentences and then whittle it down to one or two sentences. Then, keep it in front of you daily to point you to where you need to be directed.
We should start EVERY day thanking God for the things for which we are grateful. That simple practice can serve to give you a serious “attitude adjustment”. It literally fills you heart with joy. Remember, “it’s not the happy person who is grateful, it’s the GRATEFUL person who is happy”.
Are you spending life merely reacting to events as they happen, or are you moving forward each day with a clear objective? Robert D. says when you form a clear plan for your life, every day becomes part of something so much bigger….the process. College football fans are probably familiar with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his belief in “the process.” Robert D. Smith wants us to become “process fanatics”. In other words, love the activity. List what you have thought about and what you want to become. Plan your work, and work your plan!
Every day, Robert D. tells us, we have a chance to make ripples…impacting others and your future in a much bigger way down the line. You never really “arrive”. No matter how big the accomplishment. Write a book, sign a big long term contract, win a prestigious award. It’s at that point you say to yourself, “now the real work begins.”
Go ahead, put your birthdate into the widget in the link below, and see how many days you have lived:
Are you shocked? Amazed? Then determine the answer the these two important, ongoing questions:
1/What is important to you RIGHT NOW?
2/What is next for you?
If you’re having trouble answering these questions, ask yourself:
What I have not thought of yet? What is one immediate need I can fill for someone I know? What is a huge dream I have? How can I make it bigger?
Robert D. Smith says that life is not about FINDING yourself, it’s about CREATING yourself. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They are your biggest teachers. Be impatient with yourself daily. Make the most of each day. Impact those around you. Know that everyone matters.
Smile, he says. Smile bigger. Start acting happy. Remember, act first, and the feeling will follow.
**Excerpts taken from “20,000 Days and Counting” by Robert D. Smith. 2012. Published in Nashville, Tennessee by W. Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson