Something that often helps keep me on the right track is reminding myself that I’m living on borrowed time, that for all I know, I could have died any number of times and that I owe my ongoing existence to God. This keeps me from being too lazy or too selfish, and I think helps me stay pretty grateful for life.
For example, two summers ago I was at Lake Powell in Utah. I thought it might be fun to swim across the channel where our boat was docked. For some reason, I didn’t tell anyone I was going out, and I didn’t put on a life vest.
About ten minutes into the swim, I realized I might get a cramp or kick some debris in the water or otherwise lose the ability to swim. It was a pretty tense twenty more minutes until I made it to the other side. (I’m not a strong swimmer, and apparently I’m not very bright.)
I guess something could have happened and I could have died, but that’s just one instance I know about. Who knows how many times we’ve escaped a doom we’re not even aware of?
So any more time we get after those things–any time we have at all, really–can’t be squandered. It’s precious, and we owe it to ourselves and to God to make something of it.
But this view also takes away fear. If we’re living on borrowed time, then we have nothing to lose: every minute is just an extra bonus minute we’ve been gifted with. So there’s no reason to hold back in service or sacrifice or any worthy goal, because our days are gloriously extended by a loving Father who lets us exercise our will to make the most of them:
I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?