According to the FDA: “With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. The FDA does not require food firms to place ‘expired by’, ‘use by’, or ‘best before’ dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.”
I admit that I can be, and often am, lax about the dates on most food products. But even perishable food can be tested. Milk is a good example. After you reach the date on the carton, smell it, and take the tiniest taste. Then, you’ll know if it’s okay for another day—simple enough and money-saving.
To many, the expiration date stamped on food products is gospel, which, they believe, is critical to our health and well-being and justifies throwing away so much food when nearly 34 million Americans suffer food insecurity.
Then there’s human expiration dates
This begs the question: Why do we so stubbornly oppose, ignore, or deny THIS expiration date:
That reality is probably the most profound image of “whistling past the graveyard”. Every one of us has an expiration date. It’s not arbitrary or negotiable. And, yes, it IS set in stone.
Okay, a bit of clarification: God can change that date if he wants to. He can do anything he wants. But are you willing to bet on that?
It’s also quite possible when your doctor told you you had six months to live – ten years ago – that all those prayers raised to heaven on your behalf were answered. But I believe it’s more probable that the doctor was wrong. It reminds me of the expression, “If it ain’t your time to go, not even a doctor can kill you”.
Here’s a fun factoid (sorry, this is probably gross for you to consider), when we humans reach our final stage of life, usually the last couple of days or hours, there is an unmistakable smell of death. It is one of the signs of the end of life’s journey. I have experienced it sitting vigil with Hospice patients. But don’t count on that smell test to help you decide to hurry up and clean your act up. Unfortunately, at that point, you will be too far gone to make any life-changing decisions.
And what if, on your expiration date, without any warning, you get run over by a truck on your way to the mailbox!?
Where to begin to prepare for that fateful day?
So many times, I have tried to change, then failed miserably. However, the older I get, the more I realize my time is running out for a course correction.
“I’m going to bake a pie for that grouchy neighbor of mine!”
“I need to apologize for all the messes I have made in people’s lives.”
It often sucks royally because I’m certain some are not likely to acknowledge or accept my efforts.
I must keep trying though, with humility and by the grace of God, who tells us that our efforts will not be in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
With that in mind, I have determined – again – to make an honest effort to clean up my mess while I still can.
I have so much to consider:
- Needed changes I have refused to deal with.
- The baggage I cling to.
- Old hurts that still affect my life all these decades later.
- Lies of other broken people I have fed on and nurtured.
- Guilt and shame I cannot let go of.
- And, most importantly, denial of my worth as a beloved child of God.
What’s the goal?
I long to grow in love. I want to use each day, however many I have left, to fully live as the person I was created to be.
Saint Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” If we call ourselves Christian, we should all want to strive for our faith’s ultimate goal – to love and care for others. And it’s not a goal to be realized after life here on earth has ended – it’s too late then. It is a goal we should strive for every day, right here, right now.
The Kingdom of God is here, now. It’s not some faraway place we hope we’ve gotten our card punched enough to qualify for entry.
Our hell is right here if that’s the life we are living.
Our heaven is right here if we choose to live as God calls us to.