The Last Third

About 15 years ago I went to hear Billy Graham speak at the crusade he was holding in Columbus, Ohio. The very first thing he said in the pulpit was, “The thing that strikes me most about life is the brevity of it.”

His comment did not mean that much to me at that moment, it did not really register. But during that same period of my life I went to visit my Grandma Bertha one day, and she made this statement: “Keith, it seems like yesterday that I was a teenager.”

So I began to think more about “The Brevity of Life,” about what that might mean.

When you are in your early thirties, your awareness of the brevity of life is not nearly as acute as it is when you are older. I am now in my late forties, and the speed with which my life is passing seems to be accelerating rapidly.

The current average life expectancy for an American male is around 75 years, so statistically I am entering the last third of my life.

The last third.

Two-thirds of my life is behind me, only one third remains. Granted, I try to live healthfully and perhaps I will “beat the odds” and live longer than 75 years. But then again, God might have other plans for me and I will live only a few more moments.

In any case, I think more and more about the brevity of life and it is definitely affecting the way I think and the way I live. For example, my priorities have definitely changed. Some things that seemed important to me when I was younger no longer even concern me.

Another example of the change in me is that I am much more inclined to speak my mind when I strongly feel that something should be said. If I don’t say something now, when will it be said?

I’m less inclined to let injustices go unchallenged.

Fixing the fence seems much less important than spending time with my wife … although I don’t intend to let our property go to pot.

I’m more inclined to hire someone else to do the job than do it myself … especially when it involves stuff like digging ditches.

You’d think that I would be more inclined to hoard as I approach retirement, but giving to others seems more attractive now. You can’t take it with you when you die, eh?

Although I still compete, I am far less competitive than I used to be – how important, really, in the grand scheme of things is my Saturday morning squash match?

I want to be more accepting and less judgmental of those who have a different perspective, a different background, a different orientation, a different creed, a different experience.

I want more and more that my life would count for something … that I live authentically and without façade … that I fulfill my God given purpose in life.

I’m in the last third of my life … or, could it be that all I really have is right now?