Friday, April 1, 2016


In my ninety years I have never had an auto accident or been in one. However, a few months ago I was sideswiped on the driver's side of my car at night on a divided highway while I was signaling to make a left turn. The details are unimportant, the damage minimal: some car body crunching, a broken tire and rear view mirror...but if it had happened a second later I would have been struck broadside at a high rate of speed. I would likely not be alive to write this.

I sat shaken but thankful and unhurt awaiting the police presence, all the while keenly sensing God's presence. I soberly reflected on having received a bonus of time!

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

Whatever our situation or age, whether we have made it through a serious illness, or are burdened with chronic ill health, or suffer unfixable limitations, or survived some traumatic event that might have taken our life—or whether we have already been living, abundant extra years beyond hereditary expectation—we are living in bonus time.

Life itself, however long or short, is a bonus. I don't agree with the term “living on borrowed time.” I haven't borrowed anything from anyone. Since I'm alive today, I'm living on God's generous, preordained time specifically planned for me. What I am going to do with my bonus days, months, or years is my choice. 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, for instance, God brought me through for a purpose. Did He sustain my life only so I could drift along for my own pleasure and “row, row, row my boat gently and merrily down the stream” just to hang around a little longer? What's the point?

After finding out that he would have to live the rest of his life after a traumatic accident with no expectation of ever having relief from pain and an uncertain lifespan, Tim Hansel wrote, “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.”

I want 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 should 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—actually only a few months. God soon 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 spent your brief bonus time fruitfully and invested your last mile. None of us know God's timing for our Homeward call. Life on this earth is described as a vapor.

Any of us are capable of making a bonus blunder in the last season of life. 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. They didn't stay the course. Sometimes we are like king Hezekiah in Old Testament times who begged God for an extension of time during his terminal health crisis. God granted him a last minute reprieve of fifteen years. We wonder if it might have been better for him not to have survived because of the good that he didn't do and the evil that he allowed to happen on his watch...but that's not for any of us mortals to judge, only to take warning from.

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

The bottom line? Let's treat every day as a loving gift from God! Celebrate and spend it carefully and prayerfully!

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