Wednesday, November 27, 2013

do or die

(Note: Oops. Stand in the Rain's schedule went slightly askew. Today's article should have been published a week ago. We'll be back on the beam tomorrow.)
(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today:
Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:14
The end of Ecclesiastes provides us with some of the richest metaphors we have regarding the aging process. As much as I love the more standard Bible versions (KJV, NIV, ESV), I feel that the New Living Translation best captures the essence of what Solomon was communicating:
Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.
So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.
Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.
Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.
Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper…
Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral. Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well (1).

The basic idea of this passage is this: "It's now or never! It's do or die!"
In my work with students, this is a passage that I use to remind them of the importance of their choices now. Its a warning to them that life only gets harder, and more complicated as you get older, so make the right choices and habits now, before it's too late.
But this is a message that both young and old need to hear. From a spiritual point of view, there is no tomorrow. We either seek, follow, receive, accept the Lord today, or we don't at all. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation (2)."
Our society is one that teaches that it is okay to put God and spiritual matters on the back burner, that you don't really need Him until you reach some undefined point down the road. Our world operates under the spend now, pay later philosophy. We are under the illusion that there are no consequences to our actions, no real day of reckoning. We are expecting a "get out of consequences for free card" a government bailout, or some miracle pill to undo whatever damage we may have inflicted.
But if you think of it, it is utterly ridiculous for any of us to say that we will put off any significant or difficult till later. The old "I'll start (exercising, dieting, studying, devotions,etc.) tomorrow is just as preposterous as the old "I'll stop (drinking, smoking, swearing, overeating, procrastinating, etc.) tomorrow" excuse. Tomorrow never comes! Each day you wake up, it is still today and you must chose that day to make whatever decision you make. All your plans for tomorrow only work if you follow through today.
All we have is today. So what are you doing today? Please don't talk to me about your future. Don't use your past as an excuse. Stick with the eternal now of the Scriptures-Jesus Christ. "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (3) ." He stands outside of time. He alone "is the same yesterday and today and forever (4) ."
(1) Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:7 (NLT)
(2) 2 Corinthians 6:2
(3) Hebrews 4:7
(4) Hebrews 13:8

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