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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Expire (08/01/13)

TITLE: The Unknown Expiration Date
By Laura Hawbaker


I have had fifty-three years of living. Middle age they call me, yet when I do the math I am obviously beyond middle age. Growing old seems to sneak up on me like an intruder hanging about my house looking for an unlocked door or a weakened wall. I do everything I can to keep the intruder out. I eat vegetables, go on daily walks, and take my vitamins. Yet aches, pains, wrinkles and fuzzy thinking remind me that the intruder is ever lurking. And sometimes I wonder when he will crash through the door. When will the intruder move in and take up permanent residence? How and when will I move from active middle-age to feeble old age?

When I look at my mother and see her alert and lively as she nears ninety, I relax and think, “I have thirty or forty years left--lots of time to live and enjoy life. I may live to see my children’s children and maybe even their children.”

Then I remember my dad’s blood also flows in my veins and I realize I may only have twenty years left. I remember how the intruder camped at his door in the form of injury and pain, how it weakened his heart and escorted him to heaven as he sat at the table reading his Bible. Twenty years of remaining life compared to the fifty couple I have lived doesn’t sound so very long.

With a start, I think of my sister Becky and realize I may only have a few years left. Although the intruder had made forays into her life even from childhood, she lived life so vibrantly and looked so youthful during her healthy years; we tended to forget his existence. The intruder came knocking, then barging into her life in the form of liver cancer, moving in to stay and ravishing her body. When Becky was diagnosed and given three months to live she said, “I won’t have to face old age.” Not quite true. Cancer brought old age to her beauty and youth. I look at photos of Becky during her last weeks, see my face in hers—only hers is weary and ill, and I cry out, “No, No! This isn’t supposed to happen when you are only in your fifties.” Having two years left to live seems short, way too short.

And what if, like my friend Mary Ellen, the intruder doesn’t give any warning at all? Or that the warnings are so subtle they masquerade as annoyances rather than a death knell? Who would have thought that Mary Ellen’s indigestion was really a bad heart? Who would have thought that when Mary Ellen treated her neighbor boy to ice cream one night she would be home in glory the next morning?

So how many good years do I have left? Unlike the milk jug in my refrigerator, I don’t have a known expiration date. A “best when used by” date is not stamped on my skin. This unknown future, the lurking intruder makes me fretful.

Then God tells me, “I have given you this day, this moment.”

And if only I have this day, how shall I then live? I will take my vitamins and my walks and stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can. I plan to live to ninety, but I will try to live as if this day was my last. I will keep my relationships current, follow hard after God, love my family and share an ice cream cone often.

When I fret about the intruder I will exclaim like the writer of Psalm 31, “…I am trusting you, O Lord…My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those (the intruder) who hunt me down relentlessly.” Psalm 31:14-15 NLT

I do have an expiration date. It is today. The unknown tomorrows are in God’s hands.

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This article has been read 385 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/08/13
I really liked this. I could totally relate. I tend to be a worrier and over think things, but your piece reminds me to leave it in God's hand.
C D Swanson 08/10/13
Great message, and wonderful writing. Thank you. God bless
Linda Goergen08/12/13
Amen, good preaching! Live for the day and make each day a worthwhile day!
C D Swanson 08/15/13
Congrats! God Bless~
Linda Goergen08/15/13
Congratulations Laura, so happy this powerful piece was a winner!
Judith Gayle Smith08/18/13
Wow. Totally identifiable.
Congratulations! God bless you.
KJV Heb 10:26-31
KJV Rev 14:12
Bea Edwards 08/19/13
Thank you for your inspiring and well written entry. It was a delight to read and mull over and a hearty congratulations as well.