Sunday, January 26, 2014

permanent reminder of a temporary feeling

The title of this blog is the title of one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs.  The song focuses on a tattoo and an unintended pregnancy, but it doesn't take much thought to realize that many (or most, or maybe all) of the great mistakes of our lives are represented by this line.  In the blink of an eye – we make mistakes and ruin relationships, reputations, and even entire lives.

Another old church song goes like this:

Angry words! O let them never, From the tongue unbridled slip, May the heart’s best impulse ever, Check them - ere they soil the lip.    Refrain Love is much too pure and holy, Friendship is too sacred far, For a moment’s reckless folly, Thus to desolate and mar.    Refrain Angry words are lightly spoken, Bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred, Brightest links of life are broken, By a single angry word.     Refrain Refrain:
“Love one another,” thus saith the Savior, Children obey the Father’s blest command, Love each other, love each other, ’Tis the Father’s blest command.
If you put your mind to it, you can probably think of tons of examples of great harm or damage done in “a moment’s reckless folly.”  Car crashes, broken relationships, lost jobs, even wars have begun because of a moment’s reckless folly.  Let down your guard for just one brief moment, and suddenly horrible things can happen.

But now stop and consider this:
Eternity is a permanent reminder of your temporary life, and how you lived it

This life will certainly end.  All who read this article will be dead and completely forgotten in less than 75 years.  Most of us will be forgotten in less than 50.  But the consequences of our lives will live on.  If you make disciples who make disciples, then in the decades to come your life will result in the salvation of many.  If you live selfishly, you may be saved by the grace of God, but what good will you have done?  Like the Beatles' Father McKenzie who wiped the dirt from his hands as he left the grave, “no one was saved.” 

Your life is shorter than you think, and eternity is longer than you can imagine.  The life you live will have an impact on those around you – and this is why we work to obey the SOM, and struggle to become merciful, pure in heart, and to go the extra mile.  We don’t work hard to be strong just so we can have an easier life, but because we have a responsibility. 

Most people live their lives and seek happiness, fun, joy, entertainment, and/or giggles.  Others want to be popular or powerful or rich.  But then some of us want it all. 

But - those who are disciples of Jesus understand there is much more to it.  Each of us will help those around us to be better or we will drag them down.  We don’t live for ourselves – we follow Jesus, who lived for others.  We believe it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  We go the extra mile.  We are God’s ambassadors – we don’t even represent ourselves on this earth! 

Over the last year we've worked through the SOM.  Now I've offered you another challenge: to go over it again, and work hard on the parts that were difficult for you.  Why should we struggle so hard to master these teachings of Jesus – is it only so our lives are easier?  No!  It’s because we love those around us.  It’s because like our Lord, we take up our cross daily – to save those around us. 

We are like lifeguards.  We’re not at the beach to enjoy ourselves – we are at the beach to rescue others, to help others, to protect others, and to guard others.  This is why we train, why we focus, why we sacrifice.  We are not like the others on the beach! 

Eternal consequences of a temporary struggle 

This life is brief – “like grass.”  
…the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and
…the rich man should glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  James 1:9-12
When it seems hard – or even impossible – then remember a question Jesus asked: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  And then modify it a bit for yourself: “What will I give in exchange for my friend’s soul”? 

Keep working on the SOM, daily.  Make it a permanent part of your life – not because it’s fun, or entertaining or beautiful … but because the soul of your wife or kids or husband or friends or others may depend on it (you). 

“…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 
Romans 8:18

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