Are You Wishing Your Life Away?

Has pain ever tempted you to wish your days away? Years ago, one of George MacDonald’s short stories struck me. I could relate to the boy in the story who wanted to speed through the hard parts of life.

While I don’t remember the name of MacDonald’s story or its details, I’ve tried to capture its essence in the story below. If you recognize the story, please let me know the title. I’d like to read it again!


There once was a boy who complained a lot. He wished he could speed through the boring and painful parts of life. An old woman appeared to him. “I’ve heard your complaining and brought you a gift.” She placed a ball in his hand that had a small string sticking out.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“When your life is miserable you can pull the string to fast forward through the hard and unhappy parts. But I warn you. Only use it if you must.”

The next day the boy found himself wishing his boring day at school was over. When the teacher called for a pop quiz, panic clutched his stomach. Then he remembered the string and the old woman’s warning. It won’t hurt to try it, he assured himself. How else will I know how it works? And what good is it if I don’t use it?

He studied the string and gave it a small tug. Bam, school was over. He laughed as he played with his friends. He skipped home. His mother heard the door slam and called, “Remember your chores.” The boy groaned. Then he remembered the string. One more small tug wouldn’t hurt.

A Wish Becomes a Habit

Before long the boy forgot the old woman’s warning. He pulled the string more and more often. He didn’t like his teacher one year. Why not skip that school year all together? He married and began his family. But the responsibility of providing for them weighed on him. The baby was colicky and kept him from a good night’s rest. He pulled the string.

In middle age, his children were more self-sufficient. His career was better established, but his country was in turmoil. And there were rumors of war. He stared at the ball. One more pull.

He woke up with the flu and reached for his ball. He experienced conflict with his business partner and pulled the string. Now he was retired. Ahh, the golden years. But his hip and back ached. When his wife came to him in tears holding a letter, he absently reached in his pocket and pulled the string. The string ended—and so did his life.

George MacDonald’s lesson still sobers me. I don’t want to wish away or waste away my life. Every breath is a gift. Let’s fill our days with purpose for the glory of God. 

Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14 NLT).

Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14 NLT) Don't wish your life away. Seize the day! #valueLife Share on X

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Photo by Sebin Thomas on Unsplash

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  1. Mary Geisen


    This post is so good. It makes me wonder how many times I wish my own life away. Your post is also the perfect compliment to mine this week. I am writing about legacy and living life well. May we both see God in the details and know that both the good and the bad are worth living.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Mary, I look forward to reading your post. MacDonald’s story really resonated with me when I read years ago.

  2. Ann J Musico

    Great and sobering story Debbie. I am finding the days flying by way too quickly, whether easy or difficult. That just could be because I am older now but I am definitely aware of how fast time seems to be passing and intentionally making the most of each day.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too, Ann. Months fly by like weeks and years like months.

  3. James

    There was a similar movie out a while back, can’t remember the name but Adam Sandler starred in it. only the string was a remote control for a tv with the same principal only he pressed fast forward

    • Debbie Wilson

      That brings it more up-to-date. Thanks, James. Sounds interesting.

  4. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    What a beautiful lesson! I’ve never heard of this short story, but I love it!

    • Debbie Wilson

      I read it in a library book when my children were young. I just bought an audio version of his short stories. I hope it’s in there.

  5. Jeanne Takenaka

    Debbie, what a powerful story. Thank you for the reminder to live fully present in each moment, even the painful, difficult, conflict-filled, and boring (what is that again? 🙂 ) ones. God meets us in each one.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jeanne, such a better focus to pressing close to Jesus instead of wishing our hard times away. Thanks for reading.

  6. Katherine Pasour

    That’s a sobering story, but there are times when we all feel that way, I expect. I agree with you–we should wish our life away. Each day is a blessing, a gift from God. I’m thankful.

    • Katherine Pasour

      Oops, I meant we should NOT wish our lives away–A reminder to proof read more carefully.

      • Debbie Wilson

        I often push send before I read, especially text messages. Thank you, Katherine.

  7. Jeannie Waters

    What a strong message this story holds, Debbie. Thank you for sharing it and reminding us to treasure each day in good and bad times. We can count our blessings, remember the faithfulness of God, and learn from trials, as hard as some are.

    • Debbie Wilson

      As you know, Jeannie, Jesus and the Psalmist tell us we’ll have troubles and afflictions. They always say it in context of God’s faithfulness. May we persevere with joy and hope!

  8. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    I’m your neighbor at the Let’s Have Coffee linkup today, so I thought I would give you some more love! Your post today reminds me of the time when I was single. Many times I would tell myself to enjoy the time to myself because one day I might be really busy with a family. Though I tried not to, I’m afraid I wished the time away. I wouldn’t go back now even if I could, but I can see times when I do the same thing now. Thank you for this reminder!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ashley, I think the fact that human nature wants to speed through the tough times is why this resonates. It sure did with me. Thanks for visiting.

  9. Joanne Viola

    Such a sobering story! May we make the most of the time we have been given, living in the moment, as each moment plays an important part in the life we live.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen! Thanks, Joanne.

  10. Annie Yorty

    I hadn’t heard that interesting story before, Debbie. Thanks for sharing it. I can see how it would be tempting to wish away the hard things, but I’ve learned those circumstances give me the best view of Father.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Well said, Annie. Thanks.

  11. Yvonne Morgan

    Beautiful story and thanks for sharing. I try to live in the moment as much as possible. One thing I’ve learned is that the journey is as important as the destination.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yvonne, I agree. The journey often makes us what we are.

  12. Susan Marlene

    What a wonderful post, Debbie! I know there have been times in my life that I wanted to skip but God brings us beauty for ashes! Thanks for the reminder! ♥️

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes He does! Thanks, Susan.

  13. J.D. Wininger

    Indeed Mrs. Debbie. Carpe Diem. Prayer isn’t wishing, it’s putting a stake in heavenly ground! Loved this!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Great thought, J.D. “Prayer isn’t wishing—it’s putting a stake in heavenly ground!”

  14. Linda Stoll

    “Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14)

    Yes and amen. Debbie, I’ve been thinking about this more and more as the clock is racing so fast and the weeks turn into years. I’m having trouble accepting that I’m as old as I really am. Where did the time go?

    I regret the seasons I spent more wishing than appreciating. Thanks for the needed wake up call for us all, no matter how long we have left. God only knows, and I rest in that gracious truth.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Linda, I too can’t believe how quickly time has flown. May we savor the time we have.

  15. Lisa notes

    I definitely don’t want to wish my life away either. It’s funny how we view time anyway: if things are good, we want it to freeze, but if things are bad, we do want it to hurry on past. 🙂

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