Summary: God enables us to live so as to have no regrets at our last day.
Frank Sinatra sings with bravado:
And now the end is near,
and so I face the final curtain….
I’ve lived a life that’s full;
I traveled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.
Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention
That sounds confident, but at the real end most people feel more regrets than can be mentioned. Such need not be true for us, however, for God offers his people a life worth living. Paul found that and preached it in summary form in Philippians 1.21, which will be our focus this morning, though I will be reading verses 18-26 to set it in context.
[Read Read Philippians 1.18c-26. Pray.]
In the book, Bleachers, John Grisham relates Neely Crenshaw’s efforts to come to terms with the failures and disappointments of his life. Raised in a small town, Crenshaw lived for football, and he dedicated his life to Coach Eddie Rake. But when a knee injury ended his career during the first year of college, he began hating Rake’s control of him as much as he had at one time idolized the Coach. Now, at his funeral, Crenshaw hopes to bury the ghost which has haunted him for so long.
John Grisham writes about Crenshaw’s relationship with Rake: “Rare is the Coach who can motivate players to spend their lives seeking his approval. From the time Neely first put on a uniform in the sixth grade, he wanted Rake’s attention. And in the next six years, with every pass he threw, every drill he ran, every play he memorized, every weight he lifted, every hour he spent sweating, every touchdown he scored, every game he won, every temptation he resisted, every honor roll he made, he coveted Eddie Rake’s approval…. And rare is the Coach who compounds every failure long after the playing days are over. When the doctors told Neely he would never play again, he felt as if he had fallen short of Rake’s ambitions for him. When his marriage dissolved, he could almost see Rake’s disapproving scowl. As his small-time real estate career drifted with no clear ambition, he knew Rake would have a lecture if he got close enough to hear it. Maybe his death would kill the demon that dogged him, but he had his doubts.”
For Christians, Paul’s goal that “to live is Christ,” resonates with our souls. We know that ideal is right and good, but we may not know what it looks like. That is why I like Grisham’s tale of Neely Crenshaw—for him “to live was Coach Rake.” Now as Neely found out, the flawed idol of a football coach let him down. Idols always do, because they cannot bear the weight of our hopes. Jeremiah explained this very thing to the people he preached to.
Jeremiah 2.11-13: Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.