Coming fresh to God is the way to ensure that I keep a short account with Him. When it comes down to it, where I stand with God matters most in life. I can put it off as long as I want to, I can think about other things, keep myself busy, and stave off the reality… but one day the books will be opened, one day there will be no more time to prove myself, One Day life will all be in the past, and I could be looking back with horror and thinking ‘But I meant to do so much more!’
I mentioned to my wife a few days ago that I am not young any more. Age creeps up on you, and your days slip past so quickly, like a weaver’s shuttle, it says in Job. ‘One only life will be soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last’ springs to mind.
So today, I want to live on top of things. In other words, I want to live for Him and live in tune with Him. This day should be laid down as a Day in which I was enjoying Him, loving Him, speaking to Him, and radiating Him. I have grounds, in the Bible, for believing that today I can be closer to Him than I was yesterday. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. And with an eye half on my own future, and the brevity of it, I also have grounds for believing that this day I need to be closer to Him than ever.
If this WAS my last day on earth, I should want to spend it with those I love the most, and I should only want tender and thoughtful words to come out of my mouth. I would want to have done some kind deeds, and have taken opportunities to urge the truth of the gospel, and the benefits of living in Christ, to others. Perhaps after speaking with me, some people might go away and take down the Bible, or utter a prayer, or reflect on how they are spending their days. ‘It is better to be in the house of mourning than the house of mirth’, it says in Ecclesiastes. In order to achieve this, I need a time with the Lord, in a quiet frame of mind, still, listening to the dove of the Holy Spirit, my ego and agenda shrivelling up as I do not allow my own puffed up thoughts and odd notions of what others think about me to swell and adorn myself. It’s strange that time with God makes us so much more conscious of Him, and forget about ourselves, particularly when He cares about the detail of our lives so much.
Not only is the reality of life looming up on me, but also the promise that Christ will return. A friend of mine wrote a song, which on reflection is perhaps a little too aggressive to have an impact with non-Christians, but the opening ran: “You might turn and walk away, as I start to speak of death, but till you’re prepared to face it you are not prepared to live!” What is the worst that can happen? Someone might say to you. And the mind straight away starts thinking of all the worst things. This reminds me of a poem by Fleur Adcock:
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
I was remembering last night that a few years ago, a mature Christian brother said to me: “You need to be broken.” In recent months, I have been required to be stretched, certainly, and to be more self-denying, but I could not honestly say that I have been broken yet.
However, one thing I do know. Christ was broken for me. And I am in Him, and He is in me. So today, if I just experience the bliss of His presence, I may not be ready for the suffering that may come one day, when I face bereavement, physical pain, persecution, rejection, humiliation. I must remember not only that he makes me lie down in green pastures, but also that he ‘restores my soul’ though I walk through the shadow of death. I can also remember, as it says in the Psalm I am reading for today, that:
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
I have no pretensions to being on top of things, in some ways. But I do know that His whisper in my ear is the voice I want to hear, that His nudge that affects the direction of my day will make all the difference. And even after yesterday, when I think with pain of the things I should not have said, or the way I should not have reacted, He will forgive, and help me to start again, with a fresh hope and rather than anticipating my own failure and inadequacy to launch off on the day with a larger sense of His love.