Sunday, August 23, 2015


The word “bonus” is from Latin and means “good.” It represents something extra, unexpected, a reward, honorarium or gift. The dictionary defines bonus as something given or paid over and above what is due, more than the agreed arrangement. Generally it's something I don't ask for. Someone in authority decides to give it to me freely. I'm not thinking of money, however. My bonus is time, and the Giver is God.

Whatever my situation or age, whether I have made it through a serious illness, or I am burdened with chronic ill health, or suffer unfixable limitations, or survived some traumatic event that might have taken my life—or am living extra years beyond my hereditary expectation—I've been given a bonus.

Life itself, however long or short, is a bonus. I don't agree with the term “living on borrowed time.” Since I'm alive today, I'm living on God's generous, predetermined time. What am I going to do with my bonus days or years? How shall I spend, redeem, invest, make fruitful for God and others the extended days of my life, if God grants them?

If I have recovered from an illness, God brought me through to recovery for a purpose. Did He heal me only so I could drift along for my own pleasure, “row, row, rowing my boat gently and merrily down the stream” just to hang around a little longer? 

Tim Hansel wrote after finding out that he would have to live the rest of his life after a tragic accident with no relief from pain ever and an uncertain lifespan, “I don't know how much string is left on my ball of twine. There are no guarantees how long any of us will live, but I know full well that I would rather make my days count than merely count my days. I want to live each one of them as close to the core of life as possible, experiencing as much of God and my family and friends as I am capable. Since life is inevitably too short for all of us, I want to enjoy it as much as I can no matter what my circumstances.”

My desire for my bonus days is to say with Saint Paul, “My deep desire and hope is that at all times, and especially just now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more. But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I chould choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith...” (Philippians 1:20-25 GNB.

But Paul, history tells us that you really didn't live very long after you wrote the above—only a few months. Then God called you to your eternal reward. It was not for you to choose after all, Paul. Nevertheless, what you accomplished and wrote for all posterity in those next few months counted for eternity. You invested your brief bonus time well and ran the last mile. None of us know God's timing for our Homeward call. Life on this earth is as a vapor.

Any of us are capable of making a bonus blunder. A quick historical survey and a look at the lives of some people in our generation reveal examples of those who blew it toward the end of their lives. Sometimes they begged God for an extension of time after some crisis. In some cases it might have been better for them not to have survived, but that's not for any of us mortals to judge.

How we live in any season of our lives carries a sober responsibility. We can't afford to drift or spend our bonus time on ourselves. If God gives us bonus days, weeks, months, or years, they should be “handled with care” because they are fragile and precious. We will be accountable to the Lord how we invested our bonus time, whether as wasteful spenders or as careful stewards.

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