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Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘The Great Wide World Over There’ tells the tale of an illiterate woman who leads a lonely existence until her nephew visits one day. She asks him to write to people in the great wide world (including ubiquitous junk mailers) so that she can correspond with them – albeit through the nephew, as she doesn’t learn to read and write, even while he’s there. Her exciting life change continues for a time after her nephew eventually leaves, but inevitably the one-way mail drops off in frequency until she receives none, and her life is just as closed and lonely as at the start. You see, she was fixed on the short-term (getting regular correspondence) without having the foresight of preparing for the long-term (being unable to read or reply to incoming letters due to her illiteracy).

Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor 161-180AD) said, “What we do now echoes in eternity.” Eternity may be a stretch in terms of most activity, but there’s no doubt that what we do — or don’t do — from day to day, the choices and decisions we make, can have far-reaching consequences for us and the lives of those with whom we associate. How are we making a difference in our world? Are our words and deeds building others up, or tearing
them down?

Why do so many New Year’s resolutions ultimately fail? I believe because those commitments are too often dependent on time, and not the task. There would be more success if the urgency of the task was paramount rather than the focus on some arbitrary start time.

“Next year (or season or month) I will exercise more…lose weight…stop smoking…cut down on drinking…study harder…work less and spend more time with the kids…” So, as the randomly determined ‘magical’ time surrounding midnight on New Year’s Eve approaches, some people are excited, while others are fearful. Regardless of how they feel, what is it that really determines the longevity of people’s promises to change? How desperate they are to really change. And here’s the rub: if the task was seriously that important, if the change was truly critical to one’s way of life, it should have been done immediately. If your smoking is negatively impacting your heart and blood pressure; if your poor diet is causing you to stack on the weight, which in turn is not motivating you to exercise; if the toxic environment at work or at home is driving you crazy and you’re about to emotionally explode and psychologically meltdown — the time to act is NOW. Now, whenever that may be, not until the New Year.

And if all these important things need instant action for change, how much more vital is one’s salvation.

…now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation. – Col 6:2

What better time than over Christmas to invite those relatives or friends who usually avoid weekly church meetings, but are open to ‘special events’, to your church’s Christmas evangelistic service.

And how crucial it is to really live out our faith — before all people, but especially before those whom we wish to be saved — to demonstrate that we truly understand and acknowledge who we are because of what Jesus has done. Actions speak louder than words. My wife and I often tell our boys when they all-too-casually say “I love you”, “Show it, don’t just say it.”

Do not merely li sten to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.– Jas 1:22, 2:18

Andrew Chan

 

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