John Fillmore, pastor at the Church of the Brethren, shared this journal entry in his church newsletter:
This day I completed my thirty-first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little, indeed, to further the happiness of the human race or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now sorely feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously spent.
I could have written that when I was 32. I could have written that today! The difference is I’m well-past the midpoint of my life. Could you have written that? Or do thoughts like these never cross your mind because you are so locked into the humdrum routine of your daily life? Just getting through the day is enough to think about. You don’t have time to think big thoughts about the purpose and meaning of your life.
The author of the above journal entry, by the way, was Meriwether Lewis. It was dated August 18, 1805. He didn’t write these words in leisure at his desk. He wrote them not far from where I’m sitting at my desk as he was about to cross over the Continental Divide on his way to the Pacific Ocean. He and William Clarke were leading one of the great expeditions of all time. And he thought he hadn’t yet done anything with his life?
If you know much about Meriwether Lewis, you know he was prone to melancholy. His journal entry reminds me that sometimes in our low moments we lose all perspective on life. We get way too hard on ourselves. I’m sure you and I both have already accomplished much for which we should feel proud and grateful.
However, Meriwether Lewis reminds us also that we can also get way too easy on ourselves. Too complacent. We let the days, weeks, years slip by with little to show for them. As we said in worship yesterday, “whatever we have achieved to this point, we have not completed our journey.”
So may when this day comes to an end, may you be able to look back upon it as a day well-lived, with no regrets, with nothing but gratitude for God’s amazing gift of life.