One of finest roles played by the late Robin Williams was in the movie, “Dead Poets Society.” He was cast as an English teacher, John Keating. Perhaps the most memorable part of the movie came when Williams was challenging the young men who were his students to seize the opportunity for their lives to be extraordinary. He discusses with the class the Latin term, “carpe diem,” (meaning “seize the day”) by pointing to pictures of students who preceded them—now dead—their voices whispering from beyond the grave, “carpe diem…carpe diem…seize the day.” It strikes a chord with our heart because we realize our days are numbered and we have something inside us that calls us to want to make a difference during the time we have.
In the eighth chapter of 2 Chronicles, we find King Solomon seizing his opportunity with a firm grip and wringing out of it every drop of significance. He was a man exceptionally blessed by God with resources—wisdom and wealth—yet, was extraordinarily energetic in using those gifts to the glory of God. Solomon was an ancient Hebrew who did not know a word of Latin and who preceded “Dead Poets Society,” by almost three thousand years. Still, he fully understood the concept of making his life extraordinary. He was blessed to be a builder. Eight times the words, “built” or “build” are used in these eighteen verses. The fact is that each day we are building a legacy that will last or frittering away our time on the trivial that will erode and vanish with the passing of the years. As some walk through life, their footprints are cast in concrete, so that long after they are dead a path is clearly established to challenge others to follow. Then, far too many will leave footprints as those who walk along the beach, where the tides of time wash away the evidence of their existence.
Solomon built a beautiful temple for the worship of God, as well as a palace for himself (v.1), with the sacrifices and service of the altar which he organized (v.12-16). He built cities, took territory, secured it, and established an administration to govern effectively (v.2-11). Solomon built the economy so all the nation might share the prosperity (v.17-18).
At this point, it will be tempting to make excuses and say, “If I had the same opportunity as Solomon—if I had all that he had—I would make my mark in life also!” Would you? There are some Biblical principles that apply. Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48) and “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10). You are not responsible for what you cannot do—only the opportunity God gives you with the tools in your hands—and God establishes the true measure of success. It is as eternity decides and not some earthly poll that is taken. It may be that we labor in relative obscurity, few resources at our disposal, and little of the opportunity others have. The real question in the end of life is, “Did I seize my opportunity? Did I make the most of what God entrusted to me?”
Carpe diem—seize the day!