Do It Now!
But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" Luke 12:20
Michael Landon was a regular in the Sala household for many years. Every Sunday night after church, we headed for McDonald’s and then raced home in time for the program, Bonanza. Landon, who died in his prime, once said, "Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows." He's right.
An unknown writer penned the following: "To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who has failed his or her exam. To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask an editor of a weekly. To realize the value of ONE DAY, ask a daily wage laborer. To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask two lovers who are waiting to meet. To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who has missed the train. To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who has survived an accident. To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics."
Life is a series of todays which quickly fade into yesterdays. Tomorrow is uncertain. For Michael Landon—along with millions of people whose plans for the future never materialize—today is the only day which you own. Recognizing the importance of today is not only sound psychologically, but it is biblical as well. A quick computer scan shows me that the word "tomorrow" is found but 56 times in the Bible, but the word "today" is found over 200 times.
The Bible stresses the importance of doing things now, of listening to the voice of the Lord today, of making peace with God not tomorrow, but today. Hebrews 3:7 says, "The Holy Spirit warns us to listen to him, to be careful to hear his voice today" (Living Bible). Paul stressed the fact that the time we have now is a gift from God to use in making peace for tomorrow. "Now is the day of salvation," he says in 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Today, thank God, most of the civilized world no longer uses gallows, but I recall reading where Samuel Boswell commented how facing the gallows sharpened a man's thinking. When death stares you in the face, it does one of two things: either causes absolute panic or else helps you reorient your life, rearranging your values, setting new priorities.
All people who have stared death in the face and survived have one thing in common: what once was important is no longer important. People become priorities and things rapidly become secondary. I thought of that fact recently as I saw an interview with a group of individuals who had survived a plane disaster. The forward cargo door of a jet plane malfunctioned, and a gaping hole was torn in the side of the giant 747. Individuals suddenly disappeared, and survivors sat there—a foot away from the jagged edges in the side of the plane—wondering if they too would be sucked out into the darkness of the night.
Those who survived felt guilt that they should live while others died, but to a person, they said that this near disaster changed their lives for the better. May I remind you of Michael Landon's words, "Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows"? Could it be that today's program is a wake-up call reminding you that just as life begins, so there is also an ending? "The greatest shock in my life," said Billy Graham on a recent birthday, "has been the brevity of life." Yes, and that came from a man who has seen more than three-score and ten birthdays. Live for today and you will have no regrets tomorrow.
Resource reading: Luke 12:1-20.