Your Whole Life Has The Same Shape As A Single Day

I’ve been reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton recently. Watched the original movie again a couple weeks ago. It’s one of my favorite movies. In the movie, the quirky mathematician Ian Malcolm is played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum. Ian Malcolm is always applying mathematical theories to life. In the book he says:

“Consider cotton prices,” Malcolm said. “There are good records of cotton prices going back more than a hundred years. When you study fluctuations in cotton prices, you find that the graph of price fluctuations in the course of a day looks basically like the graph for a week, which looks basically like the graph for a year, or for ten years. And that’s how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there… And at the end of your life, your whole existence has that same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.”

Obviously Jurassic Park is fiction. But this quote intrigues me. It has a ring of truth. Small, seemingly insignificant things we do every day shape our weeks, months, years and our lives. It might not seem like much to read your Bible for a few minutes and pray for a few minutes. But do it every day and it will shape your life. It might not seem like much to to write in a journal a few things you are thankful for, but do it every day and you will wind up with a lifetime of thankfulness.

The Christian life is a life of sowing tiny seeds. If you try to encourage one person a day, you will become an encourager. If you pray for your children once a day, at the end of a year you’ve prayed for them 365 times, over a thousand times in 3 years, and by the end of your life…you get the idea. If you give to whoever asks, even a small amount, e.g. if you give a dollar to the Salvation Army every time you pass a bucket, if you give a few dollars a month to Compassion or World Vision…every time you give you are sowing to the bigger harvest of your life.

So in a sense, every day is a micro-picture of your life. If you try to be cheerful each day for the glory of Jesus, people will say at your funeral, “She always radiated the joy of the Lord.”

The Christian life is a life of sowing tiny seeds.

Think of today as a chance to sow tiny seeds. Seeds don’t seem like much. Seeds aren’t impressive. But sow enough of them and you have a whole harvest at the end of the season. You might ask Jesus to save your child. Your prayer seems small, almost powerless. But keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Seeds add up. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (JA 5.6). My prayers don’t feel like they have great power. But I have to trust God’s word. A seed has great power. Massive oaks start out as tiny seeds.

My father painted birthday cards to bless people. Hand-painted 5×7 cards. Around 8 cards a week. I once calculated how many cards he’d painted over the last 15 years of his life and I think it was around 5,000 cards. One at a time. A small glimpse into a generous lifetime of serving others.

As Ian Malcolm said, “…the graph of price fluctuations in the course of a day looks basically like the graph for a week, which looks basically like the graph for a year, or for ten years. And that’s how things are. A day is like a whole life.”

So what do you want your life to look like in the end? Start with today. Start with this week. Then do it again tomorrow. Next week. And the next.

It’s not Scripture, but I believe there’s truth to it. Think about it.

“Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.”

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.