Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday's Meditation: A Boss Your Heart Message

Many thanks to Kirsten Walkup for his message today.  (Kirsten persevered and bossed his heart when Satan gave him computer problems which tried to steal this message for today.)  Thanks again, Kirsten!
Do you know what I don't like about paying for some types of insurance? You don't know if you'll ever use it. It's possible to spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on health insurance, fire insurance, earthquake insurance, automobile insurance, unemployment insurance and on and on -- and never have to file a claim. It's almost like legalized gambling: you say "I've got $50 that says I might total my $10,000 car this month," and the insurance company says, "We'll take that bet." And just like the house in Vegas always wins in the long run, the insurance companies are always the ones that come out ahead on that deal.

But there's one type of insurance that has always made perfect sense to me: Life insurance. I have a policy that pays my family x number of dollars when I die. Notice that I said "when", not "if". That's because the mortality rate for humans has, throughout the ages, remained consistent at 100%. Everyone dies. It's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when". Even though I have some types of insurance that I may never file a claim against, I am absolutely certain that eventually my life on earth will end.

I've never sold life insurance, but from what I hear, it's not an easy job. Even though everyone knows that someday they will die, they tend to avoid life insurance salesmen, and they tend to put off the decision to become adequately insured. In fact, I'm sure those who sell life insurance would say that most people are tragically under insured in this area. We probably all know stories of families who experienced financial hardship because the primary breadwinner died uninsured. It's a shame that this ever happens, because one of the few things we can be sure of in this world is that life is temporary and we're all here for just a little while.

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about insuring yourself against another certainty--the certainty of meeting him face to face. This is not a matter if "if", it's a matter of "when". In chapter 24 Jesus tells us emphatically that he is coming back. In chapter 25 he tells us about the final judgment. Whether or not we're alive when Jesus returns, we will ultimately stand before his throne on judgment day. We need to live this life in such a way that we prepare ourselves for that moment in eternity. The parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:1-13 tells us how to do that.

This parable is a slice of life from first century Palestine. Weddings were then, as they are now, huge occasions filled with ceremony and symbolic customs. One such custom was that the bridegroom would come for his bride at an unexpected time--sometimes in the middle of the night. It was a custom that maidens would wait with the bride for the bridegroom to arrive. It was also a law that no one was allowed on the streets after dark without a lamp. So, in order for the maidens to accompany the bride to her wedding, they needed to be prepared for the bridegroom to come at any time, and they needed to be prepared to make the journey to his home (where the wedding would take place), even in the wee hours of the night. Jesus uses this wedding custom to illustrate the kingdom of heaven. He's not just talking about the second coming; he's also talking about heaven, and what it takes to get there.

The difference between the wise virgins and the foolish virgins was very simple: the wise virgins brought oil for their lamps, the foolish ones didn't. It wasn't because they didn't have the money to buy it, and it wasn't because oil wasn't available to be purchased--they just didn't do it. A seemingly small detail, but it had significant consequences.

Here's a modern day version of the parable, and it's true. I had a friend named Larry who was several hours late for his wedding, and almost missed out completely on getting married because he let a couple of details slip through the cracks. Here's how it happened.

Several months earlier his automobile license plate came up for renewal, but he forgot to pay it. The renewal was only about $30, but he just never got around to taking care of it. The license plate expired, and eventually he got stopped and ticketed. The ticket for driving with an expired tag was probably about $50, but guess what--he never got around to paying it. When the DMV was informed that Larry had defaulted on a traffic ticket, they revoked his license and sent him a letter informing him of this. But guess what? Larry had moved a few months earlier and had never sent in a change of address, so he didn't get the notice.

Now it's the day of his wedding. He's on his way to the church, and he's in a little fender-bender. As the officer writes the accident report, he runs a check on Larry's driver's license, and discovers that it had been suspended, so Larry is arrested and taken to the jail house. Larry kept saying, "But it's my wedding day! Can't you let me off the hook?" And the officer said, "Likely excuse!"

Maybe the cops were just a little mischievous about this, but after they booked him, finger printed him, and strip searched him, they let him sit in a jail cell for about three hours before he was allowed to make a phone call. By then everyone in the wedding party was in a panic. You can imagine what they were thinking. He was finally able to get in touch with someone who was able to help secure his release, and he made it to the wedding. Needless to say, he got off to a great start with in-laws. A p.s. to this story is that since his license was expired, the insurance company wouldn't cover the accident claim and he had to pay it out of his own pocket.

Do you see how neglecting this one minor detail--an expense of just a few dollars--created a domino effect that resulted in all kinds of trouble for Larry? Not very many people are so careless in this area of their lives, but I'll tell you what I see. I see many people who are much more careless in areas of even greater importance. Like their families. Like their marriage. Like their spiritual life.

I was at a Promise Keeper's Convention in Dallas several years ago and a man told me about his daughter's upcoming wedding. Just a few days before the convention she said to him, "Dad, in less than a month I'll be moving out of the house, and I feel like I don't even know you." I can pretty much guarantee you that every detail of this man's financial life was in meticulous order--but one of the most important areas of his life had been neglected to a tragic level.

I've also known many people who spent their entire lives working toward success, building wealth, accumulating things--and have never given serious thought about things of eternal nature.

Life is a process of taking care of the details. We're all probably pretty good at balancing the checkbook and getting the yard mowed and the laundry done and getting to work on time and paying the bills and all the other mundane necessities of life--but there are more important details that we need to tend to.

We need to realize that there are many areas of life that are not a question of "if", they're a question of "when" -- and we cannot let these details slip through the cracks.

Don't let the important things slide. Your relationship with God matters more than anything else in the world. Tend to it. Devote time each day to pursuing a closer relationship with God. This is why I'm constantly challenging you to make daily prayer and daily Bible study a priority in your life. It's how you keep the lamp of your spiritual life burning--even through the darkest nights. Life is a process of tending to the details; don't let the most important ones slip through the cracks.

Boss your heart!



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