We have only one life to live, only one. Think of this for a moment. Here we are in this world of time making the journey of life. Each day we are farther from the cradle and nearer the grave. Solemn thought. See the mighty concourse of human lives; hear their heavy tread in their onward march. Some are just beginning life’s journey; some are midway up the hill, some have reached the top, and some are midway down the western slope. But where are we all going? Listen, and you will hear one answer—“Eternity.” Beyond the fading, dying gleams of the sunset of life lies a boundless, endless ocean called Eternity. Thitherward you and I are daily traveling.
Time is like a great wheel going its rounds. On and on it goes. Some are stepping on and some are stepping off. But where are these latter stepping? Into eternity. See that old man with bent form, snow-white locks, and tottering steps. His has been a long round, but he has made it at last. See the middle-aged. His round has not been so long, but he must step off. See the youth. He has not been on only a little while, but he is brought to the stepping-off place. He thought his round would be much longer. He supposed he was fairly getting started when that icy hand was laid upon him and the usher said, “Come, you have made your round, and you must go.” The infant that gave its first faint cry this morning may utter its last feeble wail tonight. And thus they go. But where? Eternity.
“Oh, eternity! Long eternity!
Hear the solemn footsteps of eternity.”*
If you were to start today and ask each person you meet the question, “Where are you going?” And, if possible, you were to travel the world over and ask each one of earth’s inhabitants, there could be but one answer—“Eternity.”
Only one life to live! Only one life, and then we must face vast, endless eternity. We must pass along the pathway of life but once. Every step we take is a step that can never be taken again. With this fact in mind, who does not feel like calling upon the All-Wise to direct his every step? If when we make a misstep we could go back and step it over, then there would not be such great necessity to step carefully. But we can never go back. We are leaving footprints. Just as our steps are, so will the footprints be which will tell the story of our life. If we had a score of lives to live, how to live this one would not be of such great moment. We should then have nineteen lives in which to correct the errors and sins of this one—but alas! we have but one. What, then, should we seek more earnestly than to know how to live?
We doubt not but there is in the heart of the reader a strong desire to live life as it should be lived. Thank God, you can. You desire your life to be like the fertile oasis, where the weary traveler refreshes himself. You have seen the rays of light lingering upon the hillside and treetop and gilding the fleecy cloud after the sun had gone down. You desire the beautiful rays of light from your life to linger long after your sun has gone down. You can have it that way. The deeds you do will live after you are gone. They are the footprints. Someone has said that we each day are here building the house we are going to occupy in eternity. If this be true, nothing should concern us so much as how to live. Some men are devoting their time and the power of their intellects to invention; some are studying statesmanship; some are studying the arts, others the sciences, but we have come to learn a little more about how to live. Many are thinking much about how they wish to die, but let us learn how to live. If we live well, we shall die well.
Since we have but one life to live and with it we must face eternity, I am sure there are many who want to make the most of life. There are many who want to be their best in life. This is not a playground, or a place to trifle with time. It is a place of work and effort, a place of purpose and earnestness, a place to do something. Life is not given us to squander nor fritter away, but was given us to accomplish a purpose in the mind of the Creator. If we will set ourselves to live as we should, God will help us and no man can hinder us. We are purchasing treasures for eternity by making a proper use of time. To trifle away time is indeed to be the greatest of spendthrifts. If you squander a dollar, you may regain it; but a moment wasted can never be regained.
There is great responsibility in life. It means much to live. The time was when you and I were not, now we are. We are, and there can never come a time when we shall be. You and I shall always exist somehow, somewhere. One sweet thought to me is that I have time enough to do all that God intends for me to do, and do it well. Then comes another thought—a thought that awes: the good that I do, the sum of my usefulness, will be less than it should be if I spend a moment of time uselessly. God will give us all the time we need to accomplish all He purposes us to accomplish, but He does not give us one moment to trifle away.
The mission of this little volume is to strengthen and energize and help you to spend life as you should. May it please the Great Teacher, who has promised to “shew [us] the path of life,” (Psalm 16:11) to bless this little work and by it help someone to a pure and noble life and to the accomplishment of all God’s design in giving them life.