Adapted from a sermon first delivered by Rev. Robert Ball, Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church.
I had a spiritual awakening a few months ago. The Bible states in Psalms 90 that the length of our days is 70 years, or 80 years if we have strength. (Psalm 90:10) Actually, according to the current research, life expectancy in the United States is 77. Some of you have already passed that age and we offer words of thanks to God for you. We pray that you will have many more years.
The point I am trying to reach, however, is that if we take that Biblical figure of 70 and multiply it by 365 days, we discover that the Bible says that our length of days is 25550 days. I did a quick calculation of the number of days that I have left and it came to 2190. I have to tell you that all of a sudden my life began to take on a different perspective.
You see, I had never even thought about it. All of a sudden, I was faced with a perspective that shocked me into facing up to some reality. My life is fleeting away.
It was five years ago that we were concerned about Y2K. It seems like it was just a few months ago. What am I doing with my life? So the question is, "Am I living in the center of God’s desire for me and am I living my life in a way that will make a positive spiritual difference in the lives of my family and those within the sphere of my influence?"
What will I do with what I have left? I hope that I am not being morbid about this. And I do not want to scare anyone. I just want us to have a reality check. What are our priorities and how is Jesus Christ shaping those priorities and how are we living into the Kingdom being the hands and feet of Christ in the world making the world a better place for Christ’s sake?
The Word of the Lord from Micah makes a major point in guiding us into a life of Kingdom building. It is a life in which we have to make some tough choices and consider what God is calling us to do. Micah says in verses 6-8:
"With what shall I come before the L ORD , and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the L ORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the L ORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
God calls us to live lives that produce and promote justice for everyone. Tom had made his living working as an engineer for a company that made cruise missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. We talked a lot about living a Christian life raising question about how it was possible for a Christian to be earning a living developing vehicles that delivered death to not only enemy soldiers but also to innocent men, women, and children. He told me that if I ever convinced him he would have to resign.
Two years later, at the age of 57, he took early retirement, heard a call from God to enter the ministry, went to seminary, and continues to this day using the rest of his days in sharing the Gospel and making a huge difference in the lives of a variety of people. God calls us to do justice.
God calls us to love kindness. Stew is a financial advisor. It was during a study of the Bible called the Bethel Series that Stew had a dramatic shift in his priorities and life commitment. He had grown up in the church and was a faithful attendee and participant in the life of the church. He joined this Bible Study group to learn how to teach the Bible.
What he received out of the experience was far more. During the study, he began to understand that being a follower of Christ was more than just going to Church and even teaching the Bible. Being a follower of Christ meant that he needed to be different in his work and family life as well. He decided that he would use what was left of his life to honor God.
As we talked about it, it became evident to me that there was a significant transformation going on in Stew's heart. He began seeing his work as a financial consultant in terms of a ministry of helping people get the most out of their assets and find financial security for the future. He put together a Biblical study of personal finances that help people understand the spiritual dimension to money.
He was elected to the city council and ultimately to the Mayor’s position within the community in which he lives. While holding those positions, he challenged the city council members to lead the city in a campaign of caring for the environment and the physical and financial resources of the city. All of this was done because he came to internalize the word of God spoken long ago to Abraham, "I will bless you…so that you will be a blessing." What does God require of you but to do justice and to love kindness.
God also calls us to walk humbly before him. Frank was the CEO of a major corporation. He had a beautiful home, wonderful children, and a beautiful wife. He was one that most people would look at with coveting in their hearts. What they didn’t know was that he had an empty place deep inside his soul. He appeared to have everything and yet to talk with him you would discover that he felt he had nothing.
He went to a therapist who referred him to me. I had never met him before so his first call came as surprise. I made an appointment with him. After talking together for about an hour trying to get the "lay of the land" so to speak, I made another appointment. It was during the second appointment that I took him into his soul. Whatever happened while he was there only God knows. However, he came out a different man.
When he asked me how much he owed me, I said, "One of the problems with you is that you always think that you can buy what you need or want. This is a gift of God. You owe me nothing but to find ways of sharing this new life with others." He started coming to church.
About a month or two later, he pulled me off to the side and told me that he felt God calling him to be a clown and to bring a smile to persons in nursing homes and retirement centers. He began his ministry, a CEO during the week and a clown for Christ on the weekends.
These are just three stories of hundreds that could be told. But my question to us this morning is: "If you knew that you had only one year to live, what would you do with it?" Would you do anything different? What will you do with what you have left?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. Bob Ball is the Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Toledo, Ohio. Epworth is an exciting, growing, and dynamic church with a heart for missions and a passion to grow in its faith in Christ and service to the world. If you are looking for a church where people are friendly and welcoming, we invite you to try Epworth.
Epworth offers three Sunday morning services: at 8:30 a.m., our blended worship service brings together a traditional worship style and a contemporary flair. Our traditional worship service begins at 9:45 a.m., followed by the contemporary worship service at 11. We are located at the corner of Valleyview and Central Avenue in Toledo, across from Wildwood Metropark.
Epworth United Methodist Church
3077 Valleyview Drive
Toledo, OH 43615-2237
Telephone : 419-531-4236
FAX : 419-531-7487
Corner of Valleyview and Central Ave, across from Wildwood Metropark