They are slipping away—
these sweet, swift years;
Like a leaf on the current cast,
With never a break in the rapid flow;
We watch them as one by one they go
Into the beautiful past.
— Albert Jonathan Russell
Source: Life And Labors Of Albert Jonathan Russell: A Collection Of Writings Showing Some Of His Efforts In Behalf Of His Fellowmen (1897)
Getting a heart of wisdom
With the arrival of the New Year, the finger on the clock of time turns inescapably. Every now and then, we are distraught when we comprehend that time moves on, that the years are slipping out of our hands. Yet, these thoughts need not actually dishearten us.
The wisdom of living consists in making the most of what we are given. We cannot weave without threads, but it is our skill with the threads, which determines whether we shall fashion a lovely tapestry or labor without producing anything practical or beauty.
Divine Purpose in Our Lives
God does not fashion life for us. He does not establish the shape of our dreams, or our accomplishments, but He gives us the threads… He has gifted our hands with energy, our minds with faculty to reason, our hearts with the power to sense, and He placed us upon the setting of nature abounding in the raw materials with which we can build to our heart’s wish. We may have difficulty sensing the ultimate purpose, but this meaning will be fully revealed in future generations.
An artist who has spent his days fashioning a thing of beauty rejoices in his labor when it is done: He does not fret that the days that have passed have made him older. Only empty days, fruitless days, wasted days, are a letdown. Only the passing of days such as these is disheartening.
“How are we using the threads that the Lord has given us?” At the New Year, we ask this question. It is a disturbing question, because on its answer depends the sum of meaning in our lives.
Wasted threads, badly used threads, show up in the final design, but when we weave with skill, and fashion life into a pattern of harmony and goodness, and then our existence becomes permeated with serenity and peace. We can laugh though the days pass and the years go, for then we have given only time in exchange for achievement.
During this season of the year, we often recall the prayer from Psalms 90:12:
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
No, it does not really mean to count days. Anyone can do that. It is rather a prayer to make the days count. That is indeed the supreme wisdom of living.
Endeavor and enthusiasm in human beings cannot be defined easily. They evolve out of the complex mix of geo-political surroundings, social environment, accessible opportunities and an individual’s will to accomplish something under presented circumstances. What we’ve been given and what we do with those skills are the unpredictable factors of opportunity that define and differentiate the outcome of our lives.
Self-starters and achievers do not waste the opportunities they get and use them to excel for their own benefit. They know how to make the most of good luck and exploit that with love for their work and the longing to climb the ladder. They see themselves as more productive than everyone else.