I am in Westfield, NJ tonight. I came to visit one of my clients for the next several days and it was a rather long trip out here this afternoon. Last night, we had violent thunderstorms in Indiana and today the storms moved east, so most flights into and out of Newark were late. I was delayed at Indianapolis Airport for several hours and finally arrived here in time to grab a late sandwich.
But what happened between the airport and the hotel is the subject of tonight’s short story. I met Bill – my driver for the ride to the hotel in Westfield. As is my custom, I always try to make conversation with the folks I come in contact with during my trips. He politely greeted me and we were off to the car.
In the first several minutes, I found out that Bill is 48 years old, a Christ follower, was married but divorced in 2007 and hopes someday to be married again. He was very personable and we got to talking about all sorts of things. In fact, I was very surprised about how open he was about the mistakes he has made in his life. But what surprised me even more was how he described how God always seems to speak into his life when he is about to do something wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Almost like conscience, but even stronger.
And, he talked about his experiences with people today and how everyone wants instant gratification. Now I don’t know about you, but I still wrestle with that issue and I am no spring chicken – I suspect that Bill does also. He told me that most people only want what they can have right now – he called it “downloadable and disposable”. I laughed out loud. I have never heard it put quite that way, but he has a point. We live in a world of fast food, and disposable everything. We can’t even go to the store to rent movies any more – we rent them on the internet. Bill has a point. We want what we want, and we want it now!
Of course, you know me well enough by now that this reminds me of a Bible story. It seems that Paul had to address this very issue of instant gratification with the Thessalonians. To bring you up to speed, Christ had ascended and when He remarked that He would return, the Thessalonians thought that the kingdom of God was right around the corner. So, rather than work, they sat around and waited for the return of Christ. They indulged in things they wanted to do and were unconcerned about any type of effort, figuring that any further work on the earth would be pointless. After all, heaven was right around the corner. Paul had to step in and advise them of how they should be acting as representatives of Christ on earth.
Since God literally has all the time in the world, we have no idea when Christ will return. But the Scripture tells us that he will come “quickly”. People assume that this means right away, you know, instant gratification, but this is not the case. In the original Greek, it means that once the return of Christ starts, it will happen suddenly, or fast – it will not be drawn out. In the meantime, we are admonished to work and contribute and patiently wait for Christ. Paul even tells us in 1 Thess 2:12, that he hoped the Thessalonians “would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory”.
So what about us? Two thousand years have passed and we still have not experienced the return of Christ. Well, my encouragement today is dig in for the long haul and put your best foot forward. My prayer is that we will all persevere and, as Paul told the Thessalonians, walk in a manner pleasing to God. We may experience the Rapture (being taken up to the heavens with God) tomorrow, but we don’t know – and as ambassadors of Christ in this world, we have a divine assignment to honor God with our work and our best effort.
So, today, I hope that you will consider offering a special dedication to God, as we are told in Col. 3: 23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve”.