The opportunities of life and time, and why we don’t pursue them

If God has still allowed me time on this earth, it is because he still has something for me to do. I do not presume to know all his thoughts, but that seems to be a safe statement to make. Others younger and more talented than I have entered eternity. There have been moments when I came close to the exit: car accident, surgery, my own foolishness, perhaps. (You may have your own moments to tell about.) But the Lord rescued me from them all (to borrow Paul’s language, if not his experience, in 2 Tim 3.11).

Life means opportunity to learn, to serve, and to teach. It means, above all, opportunity to draw near to God. Time (the stuff of life) offers a chance to grow, to mature, to leave self further behind.

If I am not doing what I should, when will be the hour to do it, if not now? What must happen for me to perform those most basic and essential of activities before me? Is it not when I acknowledge the need, and little else? If I know what I must do, what, or who, am I waiting on?

Delay means reinforcement of self, a stubborn refusal to go forward, a decision for death. Ignorance itself is a choice.

Tinkering with externals brings no lasting satisfaction. A change of location fails to secure happiness. What’s needed is a change of heart, the pursuit of peace through the welcoming of the Lord into the whole being.

Both the sinner and the saint must ask daily what remains to be done in order to remove divided loyalties and devote self wholly to God. In a different spirit than the rich young ruler, the question is a good one, “What do I still lack?” Mt 19.20.

Many modern Sadducees scoff at such a question. They’re too busy patting themselves on the back that they have advanced beyond such questions, too busy enjoying their freedom to love God and do what they please. But he who, in the shadow of the Cross, takes seriously the holiness of God and the necessity of obedience, does not hesitate to ask daily what the Lord Jesus would have him do.

So life and time distill down to beginning the life of a disciple and pursuing discipleship to do all the commands of Christ, Mt 28.19-20. It is the opportunity of resting in the love of God and of perennial dissatisfaction with the progress of yesterday, with the knowledge of yesteryear.

What has passed is history, all gains are but medals to chunk into the closet. Each step is celebrated, but the next race requires focus and energy and training. Each new phase completed gives motive for celebration and thanksgiving — and prepares us for the next.

And that final phase, of entering the eternal door, beckons still. Whether the disciple comes early or late to obedience, he still has opportunity. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, only today. And today I can still step into the death of Christ and emerge a new creature. Today I can still learn the love of God and the service of man to open myself even more to the Spirit of God.

Today I can choose life and love and learning and obedience. Show me, O Lord, my next step.

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