3 Questions

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Walking my late wife through cancer and up to her departure for Eternity changed me, heart-deep.  I have been a Christian for 6 decades, had some victories and success, known some sorrows and defeats, but watching my beloved’s life ebb away, put life into sharp focus. Philip Yancey wrote about a life-changing moment that made him ask questions about everything, too. “Breaking my neck in an auto accident … caused me to reexamine my marriage my faith, and how I planned to spend the rest of my years.  As I lay strapped to a backboard awaiting word on whether a major artery had been punctured – in which case… I had mere minutes to live – I could only think of three questions worth pondering:  Who do I love? What have I done with my life? Am I ready for whatever comes next?”  (The Question That Never Goes Away, Why?  Philip Yancey Zondervan, 2013)

Who do I love?

Jesus told us the right answer for that question. ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)  We know His words but do we live them? Are you living at a distance from God, fitting in worship and service when it is convenient? Are you loving others, selflessly, sacrificially? Love is a life-style, not a singular act. If love is to thrive, it must be tended carefully, made a priority among the many pressing responsibilities and options that come our way.

What have I done with my life?

Legacy is much more than accomplishment! “Jerry Scott” – the name – will not put on a bridge or a street. It won’t even be a footnote in history books. 50 years after I have departed this earth, most likely nobody will think of me except for that occasion when old photos are taken out or a family tree is traced on an ancestry site. But, I hope that there will be a lingering influence for Christ’s kingdom, the Word planted in lives, encouragement helping someone to turn from destruction to life in the Spirit. Jesus taught that our most lasting work is about building lives!

At the Judgment some will hear these wonderful words: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”  Will it be because they have built great churches, shaped corporations of great profit, or painted great works of art?  No, those things are ephemeral. Jesus says what matters is what we do for others. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ . . . ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

Don’t let “The tyranny of the urgent keep you from doing the important things!

Am I ready for whatever comes next?

Does life just happen to you or are you living purposefully?  Too many people allow themselves to wake up every day with someone else writing the script, always reacting to life instead of knowing the will of the Lord and living with positive aims on their horizon.

Then, too, we will live wisely if we remember eternity awaits.  In the 90th Psalm, the writer talks of the hardship of life and the fact that we get 70 or 80 years, more or less, in this world. Then he says this – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Death need not be a grim, frightening inevitable appointment – Jesus said “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.” The fear of death mitigated by the promise of eternal life.  Let me remind you that church membership, baptism, or personal morality is not the key to that finding that life. Faith in Jesus is.  He said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life.”  (John 14)   Do you know Him beyond the walls of your church, in a way that goes deeper than the creed, as Savior, Lord, and Master?

3 questions –
Who do I love?
What have I done?
Am I ready?

Yancey’s revelation came in a crisis and he has been blessed with additional years to refine the answers to those questions.  I do not want to wait until I’m staring at the finish line to ask them, do you? I want to live today as if it were the last one here on earth – no loving word left unspoken, no time wasted on sin or selfishness, passionately seeking to know my Savior.

The word from the Word comes from Ecclesiastes. Solomon let himself get caught up in chasing the wrong things as life’s meaning for much of his life. He knew pleasure unimaginable. He built a great Temple. He amassed wealth.  But, in advanced years, he realized he had wasted so much time.  He cries about the futility of it all – “Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless.” … and then he gives this counsel:   “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NIV)

__________

Living Hope
(A reason to answer those 3 questions differently)

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me

Jesus Yours is the victory  

Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham © 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Sing My Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

CCLI License # 810055

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