“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-20 NIV
I found myself thinking today about where I’m going to be in 5 years time.
I was meeting with my new boss at a job I just started and of course all the generic job starting questions were asked. Among them was where I hoped this job would lead to.
I really had no idea where I hoped it would lead. I don’t know for sure what I’ll be doing next month, let alone when I graduate and beyond. What will I be doing? Will I be preaching from the pulpit of some church? Will I be sitting in an office making an image for some company’s ad campaign? Will I even be in this country?
This was all on the tails of having been really focused lately on a bunch of frustrations I’ve been dealing with. Between some things in London, figuring out my class and work schedule for this semester, moving into a new apartment, and realizing I will no longer be in college next year, I’ve been thinking a lot. This thinking led a lot to “where am I going to work?” and “will I have money?”
Until I realized how absolutely unimportant these questions really are. What do these things even matter? I mean sure, I’m going to work somewhere, but the actual, concrete plans just don’t matter. I realized that I didn’t know how long it had been since I had asked myself “What does God want me to do this year?” And even beyond that, “How can I set myself up to still be serving God to the greatest extent possible a year, five years from now?”
See, we set up these huge, long term, fail-proof plans for ourselves as if there is no one with plans for us other than ourselves. And that if we don’t ensure that we provide for ourselves, then we will fail.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”” James 4:13-15 NIV
We are pretty boastful people. Immediately after those verses, James goes on to say that anyone who knows of good things they can do and just doesn’t do them, sins. I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. Our business plans do not matter worth a flip. What are we doing with our lives that matters eternally? We have a few years to do good on this earth with what we have been given, but we end up just using the greatest portion of that time to make ourselves comfortable.
I read a blog not long ago that really hit me. It was not a Christian or even religious message, it was a political opinion on the healthcare system of our country. But in it, the writer stated what we all know is true but hate to accept. We like to believe that we are living huge, meaningful lives that are having a positive impact on the world. But for most people, the only lives we affect are our own. The writer said, “You’re probably going to die in a hospital bed in your sixties, seventies or eighties. The culprit will probably not be terrorism, China or the government coming for your guns. It will be heart disease or cancer.”
Yeah, every one of us is going to run out of time sooner or later. But for nearly all of us, it’s not going to be in a tragic accident that took the person with so much promise, it won’t be a homicidal gunman, and it won’t be in the trenches fighting injustice. Most of us will pass in our old age, wasting away in a hospital bed to disease. Having spent a lifetime clocking office hours and paying off cars and houses and boats and everything else.
But I tell you the truth, when you lie in that bed, in the quiet times you spend alone waiting for visits from family and still living friends, you won’t think about your cubicle. You won’t pray and wish you had been able to spend just a few more hours in the office, made just a little more money to afford some new luxury. You’ll wish you had spent the time you had making some small difference.
You’ll think about the time with your spouse, your kids, your friends. You’ll think of how you wish you had given more of the time you had to making life better for others, for those who couldn’t help themselves. And, I know this is harsh, but you’ll think about the coworkers, the friends, and the strangers you won’t see when you close your eyes for good because you didn’t have the guts to share the truth with them.
The renowned magician, Penn Jillette of Pen and Teller, was interviewed about an experience he had with a fan that attempted to share Christ with him. Penn is an atheist, but he shared an insight into what he saw in that man that really cuts deep.
“”If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell–or not getting eternal life or whatever–and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
He went on to say it’s like you see a bus about to slam into a pedestrian in the road. How much do you have to hate that person to just let them get hit? This whole idea of “I’ll just live my life in a way that glorifies Christ, and that’s enough to be my witness!” is practically the same as saying your helping that pedestrian by letting them see what it looks like to not get hit by a bus… without ever telling them about the bus.
So, who are we letting get hit? Maybe we can’t save every last person, but when is the last time we took a dive to help out just one?
So, really, what are we going to be doing this year? Next year? In five years?
When we lie in the hospital bed, will we have more memories of offices spaces or mission fields?
““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV