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Story Archives: God offers abundant life in midst of everyday life
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|God offers abundant life in midst of everyday life|
A friend shared with me a fictitious story concerning two pastors who were seen standing along the roadside. They were pounding a sign into the ground that read: "The end is near! Turn around before it's too late!" As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out of his window and yelled, "You religious nuts!" According to the story, the preachers soon heard screeching tires and a big splash. At that point one pastor turns to the other and asks, "Do you think maybe the sign should just read 'Bridge Out'?"
The truth is that most of us have heard "The end is near" all of our lives. Those in the Christian community have, at least once, been asked, "Are you prepared to die?" Or, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?"
For those of us who believe in eternal life, these are considered valid questions. But I wonder if we are sometimes so preoccupied with death we forget to live. Jesus, himself tells us in the Gospel according to John that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. However, it would appear that it is easier to trust God with death rather than life.
Has anyone ever asked you, "Are you prepared to live?" Certainly I recommend that we each consider the value of a living will, along with a "last will and testament." I also recommend the assurance that God freely offers concerning our eternal destination, but may we never forget that God offers even more. He offers peace in the midst of current conflicts, hope in the midst of current disappointments and comfort in the midst of current worries. In other words, He offers abundant life in the midst of everyday life.
There is a popular song that asks, "If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I love her?" There are books, such as "The Last Lecture," that encourage us consider the legacy we will leave behind. These reminders seem to be laced with an awareness of the preciousness of life. But what if tomorrow actually comes, will those you love still know how much you love them? Have you ever noticed how we seldom have the time or finances to visit someone who is living, but we seem to come up with both to attend a funeral? What's not right about that picture?
Naturally, it's quite comforting to think of Heaven and to envision no more wars, or heartaches or tears, but is God really so busy building mansions, pouring golden asphalt and carving pearly gates that He doesn't have time to walk with us today? Or could it be that we are simply too preoccupied to notice?
I'm sure we all have our ideas of how Heaven will be. Some folks even have a list of questions they expect to ask God when they see Him face to face. I inwardly chuckle when I hear folks insinuate that God owes them an explanation. However, I'm sure if He owes one, He will, in His time, grant one.
But until then, what happens if we awaken to see another day? Do we have a plan? Do we have personal expectations? Are we prepared to learn something new? Are we prepared to share what we have learned? Are we willing to risk failure in order to achieve success? Or, are we so preoccupied with getting to Heaven that we miss experiencing the Kingdom of God that is before us in the "here and now"?
So how does one drain every ounce of abundant life this day has to offer? The Bible includes a letter Paul wrote to a church in Philippi while he was in prison. I find his words to be an excellent reminder of how to make each day (even the tough ones) count. He writes, "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." We may not accomplish this consumption of thoughts all the live-long-day, but what would it hurt if we died trying?
Jo Ann Cooper is a United Methodist pastor of the LA Conference.