How shall I feel at the judgement, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?
--W E Sangster, pastor of the Wesleyan Church, UK
I went to a workshop last Sunday night. I was a bit of an 'infidel' there, being a Catholic in a Baptist church, but to my mind the subject crossed lines of denomination and home church.
The presenter began with a photo of a very recognizable ship. Even if you didn't watch Leonardo DiCaprio slip into the water and mist up (at least until the song was so ubiquitous you were making up rude alternate lyrics) at the plaintive strains of that Celine Dion song, you'd know the ship.
According to survivors, when the Titanic sank, two things happened.
Lifeboats were lowered into the water with empty seats. In fact, historians have noted that the average number of empty seats per boat was 35.
As others less fortunate slipped into the icy dark water, their cries could be heard echoing across the silence. The boats, fearing being swamped by desperate passengers, rowed away from the sound of people begging for their lives. One by one those voices fell silent. Can you imagine it? What would you do?
A few thoughts.
1. We were created by God. By God, and for God. (Colossians 1:16)
2. We are meant to have a relationship with Him, because He loves us. He created all that we see. It exists for Him.
3. We don't have this relationship because of sin. God is perfect and we aren't. Simple as that. We chose darkness instead of light.
4. Its a relationship we CAN have. There is a way. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". (John 14:9)
5. We have to choose this free gift. We don't get it by osmosis. We don't 'catch' salvation from our parents or spouses. The onus is on us to repent and accept Jesus as Lord, as our way across the divide we have created.
Are you like me? Were you lucky enough to hear all this when you were ten? Was it on a poster in your Sunday school class? Do you have it on a card in the front pocket of your bible? Is it on a couple of tracts stuck in your sun visor?
Is it a daily reality that drives you to love and serve Christ and others, to "Hold back those staggering toward slaughter"? (Prov. 24:11)
If not, why not? Do we believe that God is real? Do we put Him to the test when we assume there will always be time to say what needs to be said?
And its not only that time may be short. It is that we are withholding the love that bears all things, endures all things, and hopes all things from people that we purport to love.
This was a week where I spent a lot of time thinking about how very fragile we are. I'm sorry to be so sober. Holding the hands of strangers on the edge of life and death will do that to you and there is nothing I can do about it except to say....