OTHER VIEWPOINTS: The Future of Regret, or Not

 


At some point in weeks or months, this disruption to our lives will be past us. It’s difficult for us to know when that will be, our hopes and fears notwithstanding. We do know that God is fully aware and we should take some comfort from that knowledge.

I’m pretending on some levels that it’s all over now so that I can be as comfortable as possible answering the question about how I did while this was all happening in real time. My intention is to speak and conduct myself in such a way that I don’t look back with a sense of loss for what I might have done, what I might have said or what I actually did say what I wish I hadn’t. These are extraordinary times for the practice of our faith, but the dust is likely to settle for our nation the same as it’s beginning to settle in China and in Korea. The days of potential panic or selfishness will be part of how we will view ourselves after the fact. Unless I am mistaken, opportunities to glorify our savior are pretty apparent to us all right now.


So, on one level, this rather seems like a nice time to take time off, relax, stay indoors, get caught up on personal projects and just take time for ourselves. Well, for some folks, that certainly might be true. That makes this all about you though. Family intimacy can also be a part of that too. That still makes it about you. You know what I mean, what you want, who you care for. Sacrifice in support of ones’ own self-interests really are only categorical sacrifices.

What I wonder concerns sacrifice in broader fields, like what other folks need, folks who are not a regular intimate part of ones’ own life. Like what Jesus calls us to, “If you only love those who love you what reward do you have? ...If you greet only your brothers, what more do you do than others?...” Matthew 5:46,47 (context 5:43-48). It seems that we are called by God to do more, to be more than everyone else in some areas.

Well, we’re trying to be responsible and obey recommended directives for social distancing so how can me reach out? Think on it and try. Phone calls and emails with encouragement seem simple enough, but you actually have to do them. Remote prayer is also not passive, but active, though the immediate benefits may not be apparent to others. Some physical needs we might be able to address without putting ourselves at risk. In order to answer those needs though we still need to be aware. Asking people seems to be an obvious way of finding out. Other things might come to mind. I’m not really a very attendant ‘card’ guy, but I have always appreciated those who think to offer them. As a most practical summary you cannot be connected unless you connect. If you wait for others to reach out to you...well, that, once again makes it about you not them.


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I’m not sure how far to extend this. I’m just trying to ask what I consider to be the important spiritual the questions of myself as honestly as I can muster. “Will I reach out to others in the ways which I can? Will I do the things which are less convenient for the sake of my Lord? Will I sacrifice some of the opportunities for what might be good for me to try to do what’s good for others? Will I do more than the minimum? Or perhaps, am I self-justified thinking that I have already done and given enough, time, money, effort, tears, stress?

It might be true. We may have already done enough. It’s not as if we are trying to earn our way into a grace which is given to us freely. It certainly is the case for some, that their resources are spent and there is nothing left to give. But that’s not true for me. The minimum. How close can I get to minimum shouldn’t really factor in to responding to God. I can’t live comfortably with that. What do I do more than others? Now’s the time to act not just be inspired to do something in the future.

All of those features of selfless behavior which the news casts are now mixing in with the terrible and frightful are bringing tears to our eyes and cheers to our voices. God for them! That’s the way to be! I appreciate those stories because it seems that that’s the best of human love which shows up when it really matters and makes a difference not only within the reach of those benefited but also once again showing that all are not selfish. Now, with less press, I have the opportunity to do likewise on smaller scale within reach of my own arms and my own voice.


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As I said at the start, I am trying to see far enough ahead that I am not looking back after the sky becomes clear again, regretting what I could have done now and didn’t...when it mattered the most to others, and in so mattering, serves to bless the God who I claim to serve.

It might seem that even the fear of regret is itself a rather selfish take on service and sacrifice but I am using it to inspire me in the name of Jesus Christ, to find more, not less, that I can do in loving my God and acting upon that by serving my neighbor who my God has also told me He loves just as much as me. Go figure, huh?

Bob Crowder is a pastor at Thompson Falls Christian Church.

 

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