Friday, June 27, 2014

Living as if we will die; Living as if we won’t

Yesterday I learned that my friend Harry Hanger was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. As my friend Bill DeWorken and I prayed for Harry I remarked to Bill how fragile life is and observed, “We don’t have today promised to us, we don’t even have the next hour promised to us.”

We do have eternity promised to us in Christ Jesus, and we do have the promise that whatever today holds for us that Jesus will be with us, but beyond those assurances mists cloud our horizons.

On the one hand we will all physically die, the exception being the generation alive when Jesus returns. On the other hand, those who have eternal life living in them through a relationship with Jesus Christ will never taste death – even when they die they won’t die – that is the promise of Jesus.

Those in Christ live with trust and confidence and no longer fear death, in fact they look forward to eternity. And yet, we also live with the knowledge that life is fragile and that our time here is both limited and precious and that we should not waste it. Today does not belong to me, it belongs to my Lord Jesus – how will I live it?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tuning the Instrument

I came across the line, "I tune the instrument here at the door", recently and found it in Donne's hymn below. Isn't that what we're doing, whether we're sick or in robust health? Isn't this an element of our calling? And isn't this what we are to be helping one another with?
When I'm around musicians I marvel at their openness in helping one another - it is a natural behavior they immediately fall into. I've seen this especially in guitarists (though I imagine it's common to all musicians). Is this not to be the way of followers of Jesus? Helping one another tune our lives to Jesus and to one another? 
Whatever the vicissitudes of life may be, whether joyful or challenging, sunny or dark, clear and sure or uncertain and veiled, our kind and merciful Father designs life with the purpose of tuning our instrument so that we may play the music of our Lord Jesus - that the music of earth might be transposed into the music of heaven.
What music reverberates from us today? Do the notes of our lives fall to the dust of the earth...or do they ascend to the heavens giving glory to God and testifying to our Lord Jesus Christ? 

Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp'd, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
"Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down."