by Rev. Doug Gray
Starting when Caleb was small, he and I have often raced up the stairs before bedtime. I would say, “Ready…Set…Go!” and wherever we were on the main stairs, we would go tearing off trying to get to the top of the stairs first. After a while, I would say, “Ready…Set” and by the time I get to “Set” Caleb had already headed up the stairs. “Hey!” I would call after him. “I didn’t say, “Go!” Sometimes I feel like life is like that, before I’m ready, life is off and running and I’m trying to catch up. Our passage for today has some great ideas for how to live ready, and how to live fearlessly in uncertain times.
First, live with no regrets. The good we know is what we should do. Peter writes, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? … It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Have you noticed how nothing is easy? So the tempting thing is to cut corners and take the easy way out. But Peter is totally right—if we are going to have issues in life—we may as well have them for doing the right thing. Whether we are living forward or trying to catch up, if we live with no regrets, we will always have peace at the end.
Second, let Jesus rule in your heart. Peter writes, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” When we are behind, we don’t have to fear, only trust. When we look into an uncertain future, we don’t have to fear, only trust. If Jesus is Lord of our hearts, then He will be at work in our lives, in our hearts, in everything.
Third, be ready to explain your joy. Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
A very interesting, well-educated Greek philosopher, named Dr. Alexander Popaderos went to the island of Crete every summer to teach a class on ethics for two weeks. One particular summer, just as he was getting ready to close the class, he asked, “Now are there any questions before we go?” And just as he was getting ready to say, “OK then you’re dismissed,” a little man in the back of the room, a rather timid looking guy, sort of hesitatingly raised his hand and said, “Dr. Popaderos?”
“I have a question.”
“Yes, what is it?”
He said, “I’d like to know, what is the meaning of life?” As you can imagine, people were ready to go home, and they were very irritated by this little guy’s question!
Dr. Popaderos very quickly quieted the group, he said to the class, “You know, if you don’t mind I’d like to answer that question.” He reached into his back pocket, and took out his wallet, and out of his wallet he took a little mirror about the size of a little larger than a quarter, honed down on the edges, kind of sparkling. And then he told this tale, he said, “When I was a child, I began to realize that I could have so much fun with that mirror. I would simply catch the glint of the Sun, and shine that mirror into an otherwise darkened place. As I grew older I began to learn that this is no child’s toy. This is really a metaphor for my life. Now I am not the light—I am not the source of the light. I am simply a broken mirror fragment. But if I allow the sun to shine on my mirror fragment, it is amazing what light I can bring into darkness.” Then he said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the meaning of life.” Each of us is a mirror fragment. We are not the Light. We are not the source of the Light. We are simply a broken mirror fragment. But when we permit the SON to hit our mirror fragment, and then bounce off into the life of a darkened heart, there can be change, there can be illumination.*
One of the beautiful things about Memorial Day is that we have a moment to reflect on the lives of others who lived ready, to go where our nation said go and do what had to be done. The armed forces get something that is true of our walk with Jesus Christ: we must always be ready, for the time of sacrifice and opportunity will come when we least expect it. So are you ready? How’s your mirror? Are you reflecting the love of Jesus’ well? Every day, we rise and think, “Ready…set…go.” But life is already off ahead of us. The world is searching for what we have found and who has found us. “Howard Hendricks said, ‘In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.’ Jesus . . . wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them.” It’s time to stop stuttering and be ready. Jesus is ready to work through us, even when we are not ready. We can live fearlessly in the face of uncertainty, because we can trust God to give us what we need when we need it. Jesus wants to shine his light not only into our lives, but into the lives of those who have no idea where the light is coming from…and they are hungry for it. Jesus is ready to shine.
*Source: Matt Black, sermoncentral.com