McBrayer: Make the most of time that’s left

Ronnie McBrayer
Special to The Detroit News

You have 500 days left to live. That’s a year and a half; 17 months; only 71 weeks; 1,200 precious, evaporating hours. Maybe you have a little more time than that, maybe less, but certainly you don’t have as many days left as you think. Time is not on your side.

Let’s do the math: Take the median age of a U.S. citizen and subtract the average time he or she will spend sleeping, working, commuting and engaging in all the other time-robbing expectations of our society. On the average, he or she only has 500 hours of leisure time remaining.

And by “leisure time” I mean the time to do what you want to do; the time to choose the life you will lead; the time to live by your agenda and not someone else’s. So, if you are a median age American (about 37 years old), you better get busy. And if you have exceeded the median age (which I prefer to think of as “higher than average”), then you — we — have even fewer hours left.

The scripture is right when it says our lives are but vapors on the wind. We are here only for a moment and then gone. As my paternal grandfather used to say, “It seems like it took me longer to get to age 18 than it did to get from 18 to 80.” And then he would quote Psalm 90, verse 12: “Teach us to number our days,” or as modern translations turn the phrase, “Teach us to make the most of our time.”

It would be easy, with limited time, to spend it all on ourselves: cruises, exotic getaways, self-absorbed hobbies, conspicuous consumption, living with no thought for the least of these or how we can help others. Such hedonistic lifestyles are simply foolish — as foolish as frittering away every penny we have rather than investing or using our resources to do the most good.

Instead, making the most of our time might mean granting forgiveness to that one who has deeply hurt us. It could mean taking those classes to become a foster parent. Could it be volunteering for that mission trip or making things right with an estranged loved one? It could mean leaving the rat race altogether or making a job change that will enable you to spend time in a way that really matters.

And what really matters? I suspect we know already. Because few people can name the 10 wealthiest people in the world or list the top 25 companies of the Fortune 500. Fewer still know the last dozen winners of the prestigious Nobel Prize.

But almost everyone can name 10 people whom they love. We can all list 25 unforgettable life experiences, and we know a dozen beloved places we have visited or a dozen coaches, mentors, teachers and friends who have profoundly influenced our lives.

Time is short. Let’s spend our days, fleeting as they may be, on what counts.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor and author of multiple books. Visit his website at