Summary: What would your life look like if it was completely abandoned by God? How are you going to live in such a way that God is the centre of your life?
Beginning with the End in Sight - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - September 9, 2007
This morning as we have gathered to worship the Lord I am reminded of the fleeting nature of life. It is here today and gone tomorrow, or so it seems. And none of us know the day nor the hour when we’ll be called to stand before the Lord. The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years, and we are left wondering where they have all gone. 70 – 80 – 90 years – seems such a very short time in which to build something worthwhile out of the opportunities we’ve been given. Now I confess, I’m not normally quite so somber as I begin a message, but this morning there is a personal reason for all this introspection. You see, even now, as I speak with you, there is a friend of the family, a friend of many years, who lies in a lonely hospital bed in British Columbia. He is a young man – younger than me – and the chances are that he’ll never leave that hospital again. Now it’s true, he’s made many of what we would consider to be bad choices in his life – choices that may have contributed to the state he finds himself in now. Choices which have deeply hurt and bewildered those closest to him and choices to shut friends and family out of his life entirely. But though he’s chosen to shut everyone out of his life it does not mean that they have stopped caring about him. And I’ve thought about him quite a bit over the last few days and I find myself wondering what he must be thinking at this time. His was a life of such potential and I wonder if today he is looking back at a life filled with regrets, wishing that he had made different choices. Is he bitter? Is he frightened? Is he looking ahead at what is to come with fear and trepidation? I don’t have the answers to those questions of course – they simply weigh upon my heart and I think they weigh even more heavily than they might because over my years in ministry I’ve seen people wrestle with each one of those things as the end drew near. And as I think about each of those instances the thought crosses my mind again – that it didn’t have to be that way - that each one of those lives was filled with such potential – the potential to do good – the potential to help others – the potential to bring joy – and the potential to bring glory to God – potentials that were never really realized. And I want you to understand this morning that whether you are 5 years old, or 95 years old, that same potential beckons to you this day as well. Each day is a new opportunity to live life to the fullest and to build something worthwhile out of it before it too passes away.
And make no mistake: How we live our lives, and what we do with each day that we are given, truly does matter. “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” Some of you will recognize those words, I’m sure. They are originally found in the book of Isaiah and they are quoted in the New Testament by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans after which he says this: “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” [Romans 14:11-12]. Brothers and sisters the day will come when each and every one of us here this morning will be required to give an account of ourselves before a Holy God. And I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of that day but I would encourage you to think of it in these moments. For in that day nothing will be hidden, nothing will be obscured, and the very thoughts and motives of our hearts will be laid bare. Knowing that, and contemplating the gravity of that encounter which is yet to be, I want to ask you how these truths might transform our lives.
I know that as a child I wanted to please my parents. I sought to live in such a manner as to avoid their displeasure because I knew that if I did not, that one day there would be a reckoning which I would not enjoy! How much more so when it comes to the kingdom of God? As a child of God today it is in my mind that one day I will be called to give an account of my entire life to a Holy God – every thought, every word, every action, every deed, every shameful thing I would like to hide, every deed of darkness which I would like to forget, will be brought into the light of God’s eye. And what I build with my life here today will be tested and purified by fire in some tomorrow yet to come, and in that day I want to find that my life had real meaning, had eternal significance. Someone once said that real failure is this: "...living without knowing what life is all about, feeding on things that do not satisfy, thinking you have everything, only to find out in the end you have nothing that matters." And that’s how so many people are living their lives in these days. And perhaps you’ve even come to that realization at some point in your own life – or maybe you find yourself there right now, today – a time when you questioned what life was all about, when you asked those hard question trying to figure out what it was that really mattered, when you spent time seeking to discover what it would be that would give your life real meaning.