On one of my bird-watching holidays I booked into a hotel. On arrival I was asked what time I wanted to eat my evening meal; it had to be booked. I had no idea what to say. What were the options? What were the consequences of choosing one time over another? I plucked a figure from the air “I’d like to eat at six please.”
That night I could not sleep. My room was like a sauna. Over the next few nights I experimented with different combinations of bedding. Nothing worked; whatever I did, I baked. On my first morning I tried to use the shower but it ran cold.
The first thing that was fixed was the shower. There was a notice in the bathroom stating that in my room the long pipe-run from the water-tank meant that it took a long time for the shower to run hot. So, over the course of a few days, I learned precisely how far in advance I needed to turn the shower on before I could actually take a shower.
The hotel specialised in bird-watching holidays. Every evening from 6.00-7.00 there was a gathering in a special bird-watcher’s room where guests could share sightings and pass on useful information to one another. And so I learned to book the 7.00pm meal-slot instead of 6.00pm.
The night-time furnace-effect was finally tamed when I noticed that the radiators all had thermostats attached. I turned them all down and I enjoyed my first blissful night’s sleep.
All these teething-troubles with my room were finally sorted by day four. I should have felt triumphant, but instead I was disappointed. The reason I felt this way was because I was only staying for five days. It was time to go home.
“I wish I knew in my twenties what I know now” says the thirty-something. “I wish I knew in my thirties what I know now” says the forty-something. And so it goes on. Life is too short.
If you want to learn a new skill such as playing the piano or computer programming, it takes ten thousand hours to become proficient in that skill. That means that we cannot be good at many things. There is a long list of skills we would like to master, but our time is severely limited.
This life makes no sense unless there is eternal life to follow.
We will be resurrected. We will receive new bodies. We will live on a new earth, in God’s kingdom where there will be no more pain, illness, suffering, evil or death. We cannot take any of our material possessions with us to the next life, but we will take our knowledge, experience and memories.
In this present life, where we have allowed the Holy Spirit to shape us, where we have faced this life’s challenges and difficulties with grace and faith, we will have become a different person. We will take this refinement with us to the next life too.
And there will be time in the afterlife to learn all the skills that take your fancy.