Friday, June 3, 2011

My daddy used to say, “Honey, as you get older, time flies.”

Being much younger then than I am now, I didn’t see how he could be right about that. Back then, Christmases and birthdays seemed years apart. Now, they seem to come every few months!

When I was a child, some days felt interminably long, for often I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. So, as the hours dragged by, I’d complain of boredom. But now I can’t do all the things I want to do, even though I get up early and go to bed late. Sure enough, time is flying by, just like Daddy said.

As I reflect on how time is swiftly passing and things are changing at a dizzying (and often alarming) rate, the words to an old song come to mind: “Time is filled with swift transition / Naught of earth unmoved can stand / Build you hopes on things eternal / Hold to God's unchanging hand.”

Although Daddy never spoke those exact words to me, I knew he was holding to God’s hand. Even as a child, I realized times were hard for us and for our neighbors. Hard, unending work. Little rest. Little money. Things constantly tearing up. Sickness. Tragedies. And the older I got, the more I understood Daddy was holding on to God’s hand, trusting God to get us through the difficulties.

I saw Daddy reading from his Bible a lot. And I heard him singing old hymns like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as he worked or drove his old truck.

I noticed how he smiled as he sang “Heavenly Sunlight,” one of his favorite songs. “Shadows around me, shadows above me, / Never conceal my Savior and Guide; / He is the light, in Him is no darkness; / Ever I’m walking close to His side.”

And I couldn’t help but see how Daddy loved to go to church. In fact, he could hardly wait to get there. Consequently, our family went every time the doors were open—at our church or neighboring churches.

The older Daddy got and the more he had to say goodbye to lifelong friends as they passed away, the more I observed him doing exactly what the old song said to do: “Trust in Him who will not leave you / Whatsoever years may bring. / If by earthly friends forsaken, / Still more closely to Him cling.”

As I think back on those years I spent with Daddy, I realize his life spoke to me with words I didn’t hear with my physical ears. For example, his life “said” to me, “Honey, family and friends are important. Cherish them. Do all you can to help them.” And his life also “said,” “Even when times are hard, hang in there.”

Another powerful principle his life “told” me, though I didn’t hear it at the time, was: “Enjoy your life, even when it’s not ideal. Savor the simple pleasures. Hope for better things; work for better things—but be thankful for the good things you currently have.”

If Daddy were still alive, I’d tell him how right he was about a lot of things, including how time flies as you get older. And I’d also mention how I’m asking my heavenly Father to teach me to make the most of my time (Psalm 90:12), since, as David said, “An entire lifetime is just a moment…[just] a breath” (Psalm 39:5, New Living Translation).

© 2005 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, who welcomes comments.
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