I remember being probably somewhere between 14-15 and playing kickball in our cul-de-sac. A friend was on first base and I was fielding, somewhere behind second base. There was a lull in the game momentarily while someone chased a foul ball and for virtually no reason at all, I picked up a small rock about the size of a quarter and hurled it at my friend, intending for it to hit somewhere close enough to scare him.
I watched in horror as the rock seemed destined for his head – ok, his face – alright, his EYE! At the last possible second, he kind of turned his face toward me just as the rock struck him just over his right eye. His wound required a stitch or two and ultimately, he was fine. Apologies were made to him and to his parents, but I can still see that whole event unfolding all these years later. It was one of those moments of instant regret. How I wished for a do-over. I never would have even picked up that stone.
Some years ago there was a radio spot each day on the station I listened to that highlighted what was called the Darwin Awards – there are volumes of books dedicated to these awards. Each day they highlighted some poor sap who had died, or very nearly died as a result of doing something profoundly stupid. These days, of course, every stupid move we make is filmed by someone and quickly posted on Facebook or You Tube. In fact, there is an entire You Tube channel titled, “Instant Regret, What Could Go Wrong?” I confess that I haven’t even watched this channel (and don’t recommend you do either) because I can’t stand to see people actually get hurt – even if they begged for it!
My question is this, what would we have done differently in many of life’s moments if we knew beforehand how things would turn out? In his second letter, the Apostle Peter explains to us some future events – how it will turn out in the end, if you will. He explains in some detail in the third chapter - “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” 2 Peter 3:10.
The point is this whole story has an ending – we don’t know when, but either we will see the return of Jesus and possibly the end of all things, or we will live out our appointed days and go to stand before Him. On that day, we are told by Paul in 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, that our works will be tested by fire. If our works have consisted of wood, hay and straw, they will be burned up. We will still get into heaven but “like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames” – yikes! Paul said that our works should pass through fire as gold, silver and precious stones. In other words, things that had an eternal priority.
In Peter’s mind, the knowledge of what is definitely coming should have a profound effect on the way we live in the here and now. Is it because the news lacks a specific date that we feel free to act as though it will never happen? To be perfectly honest, I often don’t live as though the end is imminent, but it could be for any one of us. James reminds us that we don’t know that we even have a tomorrow. What if we knew these were the events scheduled for us exactly one week from now? Take a minute and give some serious thought as to how you would arrange your life for that final week – what occupies the top five or so, priorities on your list?
We are to live with the daily awareness that this life is temporary – Jesus could return at any moment – or – we could be called home at any moment. In either case, how do you want to appear before your King? How then shall we live for the Kingdom?
If there are things you would change if you knew it all ends next week, then why not change them now - for the sake of your family, your friends - for the sake of the Eternal Kingdom? As long as we live, we have redemptive opportunities to start over. That’s the very nature of the God whose, “mercies are new every morning.” But on the day we breathe our final breath, there will be no more opportunities, no do-overs.
This is not dress rehearsal – let’s bring our best – let’s start today.