While our kids were at a play centre there was a loud thud on the window as a bird crashed into it, and slid down to the ground outside. Kids ran over to the floor to ceiling window and saw the bird lying motionless on the ground. Parents came over to see what the commotion was about. One of the kids said, “Mummy, what’s wrong with the bird?”
True story… with a bit of ums and ahhs, their mother said, “The bird is just having a sleep dear.”
What’s the effect of giving people empty platitudes?
Using empty platitudes communicates that something is not worth thinking about. It subtly tells people, “Look, it’s not nice, but it’s not important either”.
And now we live in a culture where talking about death isn’t just taboo, its strange… We have “life celebration parties” rather than “funerals” and we tell kids that their pets are sleeping, and they don’t know their meat comes from dead animals.
Gospel ministry is an exciting pursuit, however there are two sides of the ledge to be wary of.
The first is having such a big dream/vision/aim that you struggle with ever being really content in how God is using you. You might have planned to plant a church, start a non-Christian friendly group, ask that guy along to church. And now that thing isn’t happening you might feel really disgruntled. Doesn’t God know all the effort you put into it!?!
That’s dreaming without contentment.
The other is to be so content with how things are that you don’t ever dream. You don’t get excited about how God could use you in the future, how things might be. You’re just too content with the gospel ministry you’re doing at the moment.
Paul was such a good model of this. Paul was anxious for the Philippians (2:28) — who he told not to be anxious (4:6). Paul dreamed of preaching the gospel when no one else had laid a foundation (Rom 15:20). And he also longed to encourage the brothers in Rome just with his presence (1:11). But he was also content with dying and being with Christ (Phil 1:23).
That’s the key isn’t it? Being so ready and willing to die should give us all a new lease on life… and how we might be able to use it for God.
Rather than thinking about what difference you could make tomorrow, or even this year, ask yourself the question “what can I do that will make the most difference in 100 years?”
Why? 100 years is a good timespan because you’ll be dead by then. Any difference you could make would need to outlive you.
Dads and mums, that’s why parenting is worth your time and energy and sweat and tears. Strong families today are easily traced back to strong parents 100 years ago; both relationally and financially and spiritually.
Those in pastoral ministry; this is a good place to set your vision. What can you (under God) spend 40 years doing that will still make a difference in 100 years?
Of course, this is why we preach the gospel, not only does it create gospel workers, it also establishes souls in Christ for eternity.
Its not a fun task, but its a worthwhile task. It’s what Eccl 7:2 is about. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
Are you married? Imagine your spouse dies today; what will happen then? How will you cope?
Are you unmarried? Imagine never walking down the isle, never having that someone, imagine being 70 or 80; what will that look like; what will your daily routine resemble?
Do you have kids? Imagine walking out of their funeral to a future without them, any of them.
Even as I write that, I find it hard. I don’t want to think through those scenarios. But not wanting them to happen doesn’t mean they wont. And we live in a world that hides shame and death and tried to keep it in a silent little corner that no one talks about ad it only leaves us unprepared for when it does happen.
The best reason to do this is to prepare your heart for trusting God in the midst of it.
The first time I imagined Julie and the kids death I cried like a baby. And in the midst of thinking through the hypothetical, I realised that I actually got so much of my security and identity and honour from her and the kids. That’s what caused me so much angst – loosing the things of this world which made me feel secure. I realised I had more things I could trust God with… my life without my closest loved ones.
I want to be prepared to boldly sing with tears in my eyes, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”