Summary: There are moments of opportunity waiting to be opened in our lives.
Philippians 3:13-14 – “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
l. INTRODUCTION – BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS
From my earliest memories, I have been a reader. I have fought the British with George (Washington, that is). I have fought b’ars (not bears) with Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. I have spent the winters pelting fur with William Cody, otherwise known as Buffalo Bill. I have spent time with the Hardy Boys. I have fought on the coasts of Normandy in D-Day as Steven Ambrose took me there. I have found the exciting world of fiction with Cronin, Douglas, Archer, and Francis, among many others. Books have made me dream, made me think, and made me hunger for a life that would be spent in diligent service.
Some time ago, I purchased a set of books entitled “Little Journeys Into the Lives of the Great” by Hubbard. It took me two years to find this set of books and I felt like I had taken part of a major accomplishment once I secured them. Since they came at the recommendation of my brother, I thought that I would find him a set also. Several months later, I found another set for him.
Both sets of these books are fourteen volumes and basically take great historical figures of the past and boil down their lives into a single characteristic that the author felt made them to be the men that they were. Some were noted for their ingenuity, others for their honesty, others for their courage, but in reading all of these men’s lives, one understands that every man has been gifted in some area to do something with his life.
Mark’s set of books were a little more unique than were mine. Even though both sets were published in the early 1900’s, Mark’s had not been read entirely through. The reason that I knew this was because there were still several pages that had not been separated.
In the old days, when the publishers would publish a book, the printer would use both sides of the paper and then the paper would be folded into a fan-fold method and then sewn in so the center binding would support the book. But in the sewing process, the sheet would be folded in such a way that the first reader would need a pen-knife with him so that he could cut the pages as he read them.
In Mark’s set of books, I discovered that there were probably 15-20 pages in the fourteen volumes that had never even been read since their days of being published. The uncut pages merely defined that they had basically been unread.
When I discovered this, something in my mind clicked. I had read a story more than ten years ago about the uncut pages of life. It is told by Roy Angell and it relates a story that emphasizes the tragedy of the more important things in life that are left undone. It goes like this:
One day a boy came to his father and said, "Dad, it’s just six weeks before I will be going to college and I was wondering if you were going to give me a going-away present. If you are, I have a suggestion to make." The father smiling answered, ’What is your suggestion, son?" The boy’s eyes sparkled as he replied, "Dad, could you find me a second hand Ford? One that I could take with me and paint the sides crazy-like?" Still smiling, the father replied, "Wouldn’t you rather have a brand-new Ford? One that nobody else has ever owned?" The boy’s eyes grew wide with excitement at the thought. "Could I have a new one, Dad? Could you afford it?" Thoughtfully the father answered, "Maybe you can, but I’ll not promise you definitely today."
The next night when the father came in from the office, he brought the boy a book and asked him to read every page of it as a personal favor. The leaves of the book had not yet been cut. (Years ago, books were bound in a fanfold style where when bound together, every other page on it’s outer edge was left uncut. You had to cut them yourself.) The father emphasized the fact. "Cut them as you read them."
A week went by before the son asked his dad about the car. Immediately the father asked him about the book. How far had he read? "Only about half of it," he replied. Once more the father said, "Son, please read it all just as soon as you can." The boy went to his room and read awhile. As the days went by the son asked his father repeatedly about the car. Every time the father answered, "I haven’t quite made up my mind. How about the book.?" Each time the son would say, "I’ll go read right away.