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How should the shortness of life change the way we live?

BY CAREY KINSOLVING Published: May 21, 2012
"Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug," wrote John Lithgow.

Have you ever noticed that the older you grow, the more time seems to accelerate? When I was a child, time seemed to crawl. Remember waiting for birthdays and Christmas?

The Bible says life is short. In the book of James, it's described as a vapor. I asked my friends to tell me how we should live in light of its brevity.

"I wouldn't be able to eat hot dogs, hamburgers and corn dogs every day," says Jonathan, 5.

If Jonathan had no regard for life's brevity, he would probably subscribe to Mark Twain's culinary outlook: "Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."

Jonathan might not be the only one looking to Twain for insight. If life is short, Trey, 7, says, "We should start having more fun in school." Twain wrote, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

Katherine, 6, looks to nature for inspiration: "Since our time on Earth is short, we should be a good person and be one of God's flowers."

I know a little about flowers because my wife had 15 rose bushes in her Sacramento garden when we met. The pattern that Moses received from God for the building of the tabernacle included flowers fashioned in a solid gold lamp stand of six branches (Exodus 37:17-18).

With the exception of the lamp stand, the Bible uses the flower predominantly as an example of fading glory. As quickly as the flower blooms, its glory fades.

The apostle Peter quoted the prophet Isaiah when he wrote, "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever" (I Peter 1:24-25).

In the days when Rome ruled the world, conquering armies returned from battle with displays of captured prisoners, booty and even exotic animals.

The conquering Roman general rode in a chariot with his slave whispering in his ear, "All glory is fading."

If you want to see faded glory, visit a nursing home.

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