“Life is short. Play hard.”
That was the advertising slogan of an athletic shoe company from a couple of decades ago. I think it was Reebok, but the fact that I don’t specifically remember probably tells you something about why the company has fallen out of the limelight in the lucrative world of athletic footwear.
I used to have a Christian t-shirt that tried to make use of that theme. It said, “Life is short. Pray hard.” A good “play” on words, if you’ll pardon the pun.
I was reminded of both slogans this past week after hearing news of the wreck in Atlanta of a bus full of students from a church in Huntsville who were on their way to a mission trip in Botswana. One student was killed, and more than two dozen were injured. It was a horrible tragedy, and a reminder that it’s not just kids who are getting into trouble whose lives can end up with heartbreaking outcomes. A 17-year old girl who was trying to live for Jesus, and was on her way to the mission field, had her life suddenly come to an end.
You may have seen the press conference in which Sarah Harmening’s parents spoke, demonstrating their trust in a sovereign God and the peace that he provides, even in difficult circumstances. Their testimony of faith, at a time when they certainly could have been excused for questioning God’s plan, was an inspiration and such a positive witness for the gospel.
You may have also seen the photo circulating around of Sarah’s last journal entry from earlier that morning on the bus ride, that included her reflections on Scripture she had been reading. It ended with this statement: “So mostly, I was just reminded of why I’m here and that God has called me here and he’s done so for a reason. So I know he’s going to do incredible things.”
Media reports also revealed that moments before the crash, Sarah had texted a few friends with what turned out to be her last message to the world: “We are like a wisp of smoke,” she wrote. “We are only here for a moment and it’s not about us. Life is not about us. It’s about God, who is eternal, so I want to dedicate the one moment I’m here completely and entirely to him.”
Life is short, indeed. Like a wisp of smoke, like a vapor that is “here for a moment” and then gone. What we do with the one moment we’re here, and who it is we live for, will ultimately be how we will measure the success of our time here on earth.
The psalmist David said it this way in Psalm 39: “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: he bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (vs. 4-7)
What are you looking for in this life? My prayer is that you will find it, along with the hope for this life and for the life to come, in a relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ. May he give your life purpose and meaning, in the fleeting moments he gives you here on this earth.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.