Before Our Time Runs Out: Urgency, Singleness, and Confessions of an Exhausted Parent

I love this song because it speaks to a reality of life that we all constantly face. When seen from a certain angle, it's quite illuminating and moving. It makes me want to live with urgency.

Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now
Our time is now
Let us sing before our time runs out

This song arouses in me a sense of urgency. It reminds me of how short our lives really are.

Our days are numbered. So I want to make mine count. Every breath I take is a gift from God, an undeserved opportunity, and that makes me want to live a life that matters. Life is short. I don’t want to waste it.

Jesus’ first followers spur us on towards this kind of urgency.

The apostle Peter points to the day when the Lord Jesus is coming back to judge and recreate the world. He warns that there will be people who will mock this belief in Jesus’ return. But he reassures that it's not a question of if but only when He will come. Peter expects this promise of God’s coming to change how we live:

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:8-13)

Peter gives the reason why God is being “slow” to come: He doesn’t want anyone to perish but wants all people to reach repentance. God is overflowing with grace. He's patient because He wants all people to come back to Him. But one day He will come. We just don’t know when. That day will be like a thief – that is, we won't expect it. We don't know how much time is left. We don’t know when our time will run out.

If God's whole reason for delaying His coming is so that more people would repent, then shouldn’t our whole lives be devoted to seeing this happen?

Peter wants us to have our hearts and minds so oriented towards God’s kingdom on earth that we will possess a life-altering kind of urgency. The time is short. The end is at hand. So our time is now. Our time to fight sin and chase after holiness is now. The time for us to work so that more and more people come back to our Creator is now. Our time to share hope and make more disciples of Jesus is now. We don't know how much time we have. So we live with a kind of urgency that can make us do some strange things.

This is how the apostle Paul can say crazy things like: “I wish more of you would remain single like me.”

This is one of those conveniently overlooked parts of the Bible. Paul is careful not to command anyone to be single. He doesn’t place that burden on anyone, and he knows that not everyone can or even should do so. However, he not only expresses his desire that more people in the church would remain single like him, but he also celebrates this kind of deliberate singleness as a good thing (see 1 Corinthians 7:7-8). How can Paul say this? Isn’t it our purpose in life to get married and have kids?

I long for us to rediscover a biblical, kingdom-oriented view of singleness.

I’m frustrated that my single friends hear (even if implicitly) that they can’t be satisfied unless they get married and have kids. It’s even worse when they hear that if they don’t have a family of their own then there’s something wrong with them. I know none of us actually say that, but that’s the message they hear nonetheless. I long for us all (married and single alike) to regain a vision for the beauty of God-honoring, kingdom-oriented singleness. I want us to be able to see Jesus and Paul as singles who are worth emulating. I’m not saying that any of us should feel guilty for having a family or for wanting to have a family. I’m really not. But I do think we should celebrate singleness in the church like Paul did.

I’m starting to understand Paul’s desire for singleness in the church more and more from my own experience as a parent.

Being an exhausted parent makes it so hard for me sometimes to live with urgency for the sake of God’s kingdom. As a parent, I have limited time to slow down in order to read, think, pray, and write. These kinds of things are critical for my health and sanity. When I don't get to do these things, I don't always handle it well. I sometimes wonder if I was really made for this parenting thing. All of this means that I have limited energy, which means that I only have so much capacity to do things like invest in spiritual friendships. I fight for this anyway, but the reality is that my time and energy are limited – precisely because I’m a parent.

I’m not saying that I wish I wasn’t a parent. That’s certainly not the case. I love my daughter. She’s my little girl. I love her more and more every time I hug her and every time I chase her around the house. As much as I love being a dad, I also know the fight that we parents have to invest ourselves in God’s kingdom outside of our homes.

My mission in life surely involves me loving my wife and my daughter, but it also extends beyond them.

There’s more involved in me living for the sake of God’s kingdom than being a loving husband and father. It also involves me being a brother in Christ and a loyal friend. It involves me being a pastor who gives of himself for Christ’s church. It involves me being a loving neighbor. As much of a family man as I am (my favorite romantic comedy is still The Family Man), I am first and foremost a citizen of God’s kingdom. I want to live like that’s true. I want that kind of devotion to God and His kingdom.

What if we had the kind of urgency for the sake of God’s kingdom that Jesus and Paul had?

What if we spent our lives chasing after God and His purposes like they did? What if we had the same dreams for our lives that God has for our lives? What if those dreams are bigger than the American dream? What if we wanted the same kinds of things for the people around us that God wants for them? What if we devoted ourselves to making more disciples of Jesus?

What are the possibilities? What could God do in and through us? How deeply would lives be impacted? How much would God’s grace heal and transform people around us? How much more would God’s kingdom restore our homes and our neighborhoods and our workplaces and our city?

Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now
Our time is now
Let us sing before our time runs out