2011-06-07 - Next Time
In our county, on my route home from work, there was, for years, a quaint country store - the kind you rarely see any more - where folks hung out to chat, you could get a cold soft drink, and catch up on community events. I so longed to stop and linger, to enjoy sipping an ice-cold drink, chatting with neighbors, looking at the antique, simple furnishings etc. But every time I passed the store, I would think "I just don't have time today. I will stop next time." But now there will be no "last time." The aging store owner passed away, and the store is permanently closed.
Our spiritual life is like that country store. How many times do we pass by opportunities that God provides, promising inwardly that we'll take care of it "next time?" If we don't invite our friend to church, of course God won't send the friend to Hell because of us; that would be unjust - not to mention illogical. But we'll lose the joy of being part of the process.
Now by no means am I saying that we should always say "yes" when asked to do something. We should always say yes to God, but only say yes to people if we are also being called to that ministry by God. But how many times do we indeed put off responding to God's callings, thinking we'll do it later - when we retire, when we are a little older, when things slow down (when will that ever happen?!).
To whom do we need to say the simple words, "I love you" or "I'm sorry?" There may not be a next time, and we'll be left with guilt and unresolved relationships.
And at an even more basic level, sometimes people put off accepting Christ as Savior, till "next time." Perhaps they don't want to give up certain sins (going nightclubbing, drinking to excess, marital affairs, pornography, you name it). They want to enjoy the sins a little bit longer and will say yes "next time" there is an altar call or God touches their hearts wherever they are. But there may not be a "next time." The next car they/you pass may take the life of the waiting person, before they say yes to salvation. A heart attack or another physical event may strike with no warning. As God's word says, the time for salvation is today, and whatever God is calling us to do - we should do at this time, and not wait for next time.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Working together with Him, we also appeal to you: "Don't receive God's grace in vain." 2 For He says: In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation.