In 2004, I sat in a demountable room, with 25 other people looking out at this…
I was doing a course on Christian youth and community and wondering what the future held for me. I was learning from people like Philip Yancey and Victor Frankl who would have a significant influence on my life, as well as the Bible. During the week I would use as many brain cells as I could muster to remember the 7 memory verses a week, doing assignments and trying to figure out the challenging questions that were raised. And, to be honest, I really had no idea what the future might hold – the only reason I was there was that I felt God had said, “Go for it.” So, I did.
As I sat in that room, I was being taught by a person who already had a significant impact on my life. He had many sayings and many strange antics such as hitting the table with his shoe if people looked like they were drifting off – just to shoot a bit of adrenaline into us. One of his sayings that, at first, I thought was crazy was, “Why have pie in the sky when you die, when you can have steak on your plate while you wait.” However, he was someone who had spent his entire life in mission work and teaching people the Bible – as well as being a teacher – and he had lived this saying to its full potential. And, although I did not realise it, that was exactly what I was trying to do at that time.
Recently, Stewart and Dale preached on this theme and they reminded me of his saying. In Matthew 24:36-44, we are told that there is no way of knowing the hour or the time when Jesus will return. Even Jesus says he doesn’t know. Yet, we are told to be ready for it – which doesn’t seem to make much sense – unless we understand what Jesus is talking about when he says ‘ready’.
These verses actually point to the hour of God’s judgment, and the need to be ‘ready’ as in the days of Noah and the flood. Now, one of the least useful ways of keeping people in line is through fear yet I think it could be used this way. However, I don’t think that is the point – although I do think there is a message about vigilance for our own sake, because we can’t know the hour when it will come. It isn’t about being ‘ready’ in terms of waiting, as much as it is about judging ourselves daily. Now judging can have negative connotations also, but if we look at it in the light of keeping ourselves on the path of God, the path where the way we live is congruent with our values and what is meaningful to us, then it becomes something different.
Being ready, is about being vigilant. It is about steak on our plate, while we wait. That we have a meaty, real, fun, adventurous, sometimes scary story to live. But unless we are vigilant, we will forsake our time here in this life. We will follow our own noses without living according to the standards of God and what he has for us.
So, pie is great but we are promised that in the next life, right now we aren’t there, we are here. So, get into your steak.