Live with Passion!
Wisdom in the old hymn: Work for
the night is coming.
This summer's project is to take my old VHS
tapes of the family growing up and convert them to DVD. I bought a
box at Wal-mart that does it with the press of two buttons. I set
the machine beside me, project the image on the living room TV and,
as I go about my work, images of my children growing up have been
playing before me all summer long. I am right now watching Dawson,
who is nineteen, a sophomore in college, struggling with a call to
ministry and dating a serious girlfriend play T-ball. I have watched
images of Dustin, who will start driving this year, in preschool. My
daughter will turn 8 next week. I forgot what a beautiful baby she
It has given me a profound awareness of the
brevity of life and how quickly time passes. It is really true what
the Bible says:
- "Show me, O Lord, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.
Psalm 39:4-5 [NIV]
- Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 [NIV]
- For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers. Psalm 102:3 [NIV]
- Man is like a breath; his days are like a
fleeting shadow. Psalm 144:4 [NIV]
- As long as it is day, we must do the work
of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John
- What is your life? You are a mist that
appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 [NIV]
I know according to the truth of these verses
that there will soon come a day I will be watching images of
children growing up and it will seem a long time ago, but they will
not be my children, they will be my children's children. And I will
muse to myself, "How quickly life passes. Life is but a mist; here
and then gone."
I drink coffee most every morning--hot coffee
with a bit of steam rising from the surface. But it quickly passes.
It doesn't fill the room. It is there and then gone--dissipating
into the dry New Mexico air. The Bible teaches life is like that. It
passes so quickly. Live with passion. Live with urgency. Live on
purpose. Savor each moment. Live each day to its full. Night is
coming when no one can work. There is wisdom in the old hymn: Work,
for the night is coming.
A brief caveat into the obvious: this can be
overdone. We could fall into a kind of hurried, busy frenzy that
denied our need for rest. Truth is often a midpoint between two
extremes. There is a place for rest. Six days shall you work and
rest one. But, I am a Sunday School guy and tend to see life from
the viewpoint of the Sunday School. And I would say for every Sunday
School class that is too driven, too goal-oriented, too passionate,
too on fire, in danger of burning out, there are a hundred who are
sleepy, lethargic, and bored. Do you disagree?
In most Sunday Schools, we need a serious dose
of passion. We need a serious dose of urgency. We need to work for
the night is coming.
My parents are both past 80. They live in
Colorado Springs with all of their children except me. They have
spent their life serving the Lord--25 years on the mission field, 10
years as a pastor and Minister of Education, serving in a variety of
ways in retirement. Raising 4 kids who all love the Lord and serve
him. They can say with Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have
finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7 [NIV] They
have served God to the end. They have finished well. It will soon be
me. I want to run the race that they have set before me.
There is a notion that is often said in church
that I have begun to question. It goes like this: "If we don't serve
God, God will raise someone else up to do the work, but we will miss
out on the blessing." I am not sure we will ever settle whether or
not that is true in a completely satisfactory way. Taken to its
extreme, we find ourselves parroting those who rebuked William Carey
when he cast a vision for world missions: "Sit down, young man, if
God wants to save the heathen in India he will do it without your
help or mine." Not true. We serve a God who is, "not willing that
any should perish." The debate leads quickly into the heart of the
free-will vs. predestination dilemma and I don't wish to take this
But, I do want to say this. I doubt most
missionaries believe the sentiment above. I don't think most
missionaries believe that if they choose to stay home that someone
else would go and the work would be done and it doesn't really
matter. As I watch the videos of my children growing up, I think
about the fact that my parents have no memories of my first child's
early years. They never saw him until he was past two. When Dustin
was born they came over and helped with things and held him as an
infant. When my sister (their daughter) was married, my Dad didn't
walk her down the isle and give her away. They watched on video tape
10,000 miles away. I think if they thought someone else would do the
work and it didn't really matter, they wouldn't have paid that
Still, I want to be respectful of those who
disagree with my position on this matter. But if there is any truth
to the idea that the work that God has assigned me to do just might
not get done at all if I don't do it, then it heightens my sense of
urgency to work for the night is coming.
We recently had the privilege of hosting Josh Hunt for our mid
winter Sunday Morning Bible Study leadership conference. The
emphasis on investing and building relationships is the key to
reaching our society today. Fellowship is premium in a world where
we face an epidemic of loneliness. People are looking for more than
a "friendly" church. They want a place where they can grow and
develop lasting relationships that will assist them in building a
biblical foundation for life. If you have not had the opportunity to
have Josh Hunt in your church or attend one of his conferences, make
plans to involve your leadership. His concepts will make a
difference in your thinking about how simple it really is to reach
out to people.
Charles F. Stanley
Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Atlanta
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