Time for sale
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12.
A certain man once had a dream, so the story goes, in which he found himself waling past a bank that displayed the strange sign: "Time for sale." Going inside to investigate, he found a long line of people before a wicket. Standing there, he listened as various people explained why they wanted to buy time. One man had just learned that he had a malignant disease which could have been treated successfully one year ago, but which had now gone too far. He wanted to buy back that one year. A sad-faced couple wished to buy twenty years. Their son had been sentenced to prison for murder, and realizing that he had fallen because of their parental neglect, they wanted to begin again. A shabbily dressed man wanted thirty years in which to get the education he had neglected to gain when he was young.
Many people have waking dreams, in which they wish they could buy back the wasted years. But time once spent can never be recalled. Unfortunately, this is one important lesson that few learn in youth.
Time passes very rapidly once one has passed childhood. A friend of mine, driving in a car with an old man of ninety-four, remarked, "I suppose it must seem like a long time since you were a boy."
"Son," the old gentleman answered, "it seems like yesterday."
Time has value only as it is spent for eternity. Unless we spend our time as an investment in eternity we are wasting it, and worse than wasting it. We are like the army of the mad Roman emperor Gaius Caligula, which, instead of being prepared to protect the empire, was put to the task of gathering pretty shells on the seashore.
Let us "apply our hearts unto wisdom" and make the very best of every passing hour in terms of eternal values.
Relieving life's strain
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isa. 26:4.
Placed at prominent positions around factories or on construction jobs safety posters are frequently seen illustrating the right and wrong way of doing certain tasks. One such poster depicts the right and wrong way to lift a heavy load from the floor. The wrong procedure is to try to lift the load while bending from the waist with the knees straight. The correct way is to lift with bent knees and thus relieve the strain on the back and avoid the danger of damaging muscles or tendons.
We see in this safety placard an important spiritual lesson. Are we lifting the right or the wrong way the various loads that life lays before us day by day? Do we bend our knees before God in prayer, asking Him for strength and wisdom to accomplish our tasks, or do we unwisely depend on our own feeble spiritual strength, which is often unequal to the demands placed upon it?
Endeavoring to lift a heavy physical load without bending the knees makes one liable to an injured back. Similarly, if we try alone and in our own strength to lift many of the loads of temptation, trials, and problems that are our daily lot, we are endangering our spiritual tendons and muscles. If we continue the practice we are sure sooner or later to find ourselves as spiritual invalids. As we go to Him in prayer each morning and all through the day, we receive the strength we need. Therefore let us "pray without ceasing" for help with our every problem and let us "Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal."
Strength for the day
. . . And your strength will equal your days. Deut. 33:25.
Sometimes when we think of the intrepid courage and faith of Christianity's heroes, from the time of Stephen to missionaries of our own day, who have risked and are risking, and sometimes even are losing their lives for the gospel, we look inward and tremble. We realize that we do not have the spiritual or moral endurance to meet what they have met.
But does this necessarily mean that we could not endure what they have, should God lead us to similar experiences? The question was answered by the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody. On one occasion, after he had preached a stirring sermon on the faith of the martyrs, he was approached by someone who asked, "Mr. Moody, do you have faith enough to be a martyr?
"No." was the evangelist's response.
Shocked, his questioner exclaimed, "Mr. Moody, how could you preach a sermon such as that about faith if you do not have faith enough to be a martyr?
"If God wants me to be a martyr, He will give me a martyr's faith," Moody answered.
If our faith is to be tried today, He will enlarge our faith to meet the test.
The good old days
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these? For it is not wise to ask such questions. Eccl. 7:10.
The ancient Roman god Janus, after which our month January is named, was depicted with two faces, looking in opposite directions. In this respect he is a representative of two types of people: those who look to the past and those who look to the future. The first type gazes back wistfully at the "good old days," when everything was "nearer to the heart's desire." Comparing things as they are now with what they were like then, they think that they can see little to recommend to the present.
Some years ago F. D. Nichol told in the Review and Herald of how he once asked Willie White, son of Ellen G. White, about the "good old day" of the denomination. Elder White considered a few moments, and then answered seriously, "Brother, there were no 'good old days.'"
The truth is that yesterday, as well as today, had its problems, its failings, its follies, and its frustrations.
About the only reason past years look better to some than the present is that the years mellow old times as well as old photographs.
The second type of person looks to the future for the golden days. One famous old-time historian said that the hope of the human race has always been in the coming of better times. The farmer with the poor crop this year looks to a bumper on next year.
The miner, down on his luck, hopes to make a million-dollar find at his next dig. The practical thing is to live in the present for the future. God has a glorious future in store for His people. Let us prepare for it today.
He will come
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of Cod, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. Heb. 10:35-37.
The sermon had ended, and the crowd was surging out of the large auditorium. Many faces showed signs of deep thought, for the preacher had just spoken powerfully of the signs that foretell the imminent return of Christ.
As I stood watching, one man, evidently recognizing me as being connected with the meetings, approached and addressed me with his cynical statement: "I heard the same old story twenty years ago."
Imagine another place and another large gathering of people. They too are listening to a preacher as he warns them in words of burning earnestness to seek shelter from the wrath of God.
When the speaker has closed with an appeal full of the deepest pathos, and his listeners begin to depart, one runs to another and says, "I heard the old fellow preach the same thing 120 years ago, and it hasn't happened yet."
But the awful doom that Noah warned would come, and did come. And we can picture our hypothetical scoffer being swept to his death in the colossal cataclysm.