COLUMN: No time like the present

Published 10:02 pm Sunday, June 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A fellow named Patric Linton confesses to something that some among us may relate to more than others. Yes, this will seem awfully extreme.

He says, “I did a four-year arts degree instead of just finding a job after I graduated college the first time. The outside world was so terrifying, that I just enrolled in another degree and hung around the university for a few more years.”

Sometimes, that kind of effort seems worth it—but only to the person putting something on hold. Other people’s procrastination seems baffling and pointless to us as observers. 

Our own procrastination? We can justify our own patient, deliberate, slow actions anytime someone wants to ask. There’s a saying, though: “Procrastination is the thief of time.” 

We’ve all put something off. However, some rarely procrastinate and fail to understand those who do. Meanwhile, others have elevated the art of procrastination to a form that is almost mind-boggling. 

There are some things, including things of God, that we may get one window of time to participate in. For some things, there may be one sacred and chronological window where circumstances and God’s holy nudge all meet up. 

As he wrote 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13, he had submitted to his more zealous tendencies. He had turned himself loose to be who he really was, and there wasn’t an ounce of “procrastinator” in Paul. 

Rightly, his urgency comes through in today’s scripture. I don’t know about you. But here is what strikes me about what he says here. 

Despite being rejected, punished, and all other manner of hardship specifically because of what they are doing they haven’t just survived. Paul feels alive and fulfilled exactly because of what they persist in doing. 

Do you know that old joke: “I told my doctor that it hurt when I moved my arm this way.” The doctor said: “Then don’t move your arm that way.” 

Most of us would have long ago quit in the face of such hardship and punishment. The discouragement or frustration would understandably cause any of us to hang it up. 

But not Paul. There can only be one explanation for that. Only one thing I can think of: there has to be more to his faith than meets the eye. 

There must be a life-changing and life-sustaining power to his belief. He believes in this faith that he is peddling. He is convinced that this life in Jesus Christ is the right way. 

That’s the only way any of this makes sense. So, I wonder if our faith works that way for you and me. I wonder if our faith not only feels that right but also leads us to use the word “alive” to describe how we feel. 

Some people want you to tell them specific things to take away from a message. I try my best to resist that. But there are two primary things he is commending here. 

First, he says that he doesn’t want them to have accepted their faith in vain. What would that mean? It seems to mean that if their faith hasn’t affected their living, then they’ve taken it in vain. If they can claim faith through Jesus and then sleep-walk their way through life as though Jesus hasn’t touched them at all, then it’s in vain. 

Real faith will affect us. Real faith will change us. Real faith will shape and influence our living–not just our dying. 

Second, though, he says that all of belief seems to be hinging on an “acceptable time.” A day of reckoning or of resolution. He’s actually quoting from Isaiah 49:8 there. 

Everybody is always waiting. Everybody’s always holding on until…something else happens. Paul urges us to see that if we think we’re waiting, we’re really just backing up. 

He and his colleagues were living their faith as though those days counted because they did. They weren’t procrastinating. They weren’t waiting or feeling like they were on hold. They weren’t paralyzed by their grief.

There is no time like the present to try and see that our living squares up with Jesus, whom we say we claim for our hope. To try and see that we do something to fulfill the faithful calling that has been placed on each of our lives all the way until our days are over. 

There’s no time like the present to try and see that when the dust settles, no one can say that we procrastinated and simply missed our time altogether.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.