Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Question is.....

I remember going to Watch Night services as a child. Some churches still observe this custom, but not nearly as many. We would take nap that day so that we could stay up til midnight. Around 8:00 we would head church where there would be preaching and singing from then on until midnight. We would take a break around 10:00 for pie and coffee and fellowship, then it was back to worship. Sometimes when the appointed hour came and went everyone would still be praying and praising the Lord, caught up in His goodness and blessings. Most of the time I could not hold out until then. I would fall asleep on the pew or in the floor beneath the pew--at least until the shouting and music got so loud it would wake me.

Most of the time the sermon revolved around The Second Coming and Will You Be Ready themes. I remember the line, "Jesus could very well come back before midnight. Would you be ready to meet Him?" Or, you could leave here tonight and before you make it home be hit by a drunk driver. None of us knows when our time will come. Would you be ready?"
There was always the prefacing remarks: "With every head bow and every eye closed." And I was always the one peeping to see who would make the walk.

New Years was the perfect time to make that argument. It was the perfect time for turning over new leaves, for becoming repentant, for making the change. I remember making that walk to the altar many times as a teenager. I was always certain that hell was one breath away. I imagine that kept me out of more trouble than I knew. And although I don't believe you should be frightened into serving God, I do think a little more reverence for Him is in order. We should have a wholesome fear of Him. He is the Judge and Ruler of all. Yet, we should serve Him out of love. Now that I'm grown, I fear disappointing Him more than His judgment. I want Him to be proud of His child. Yes, I know He can throw me into outer darkness. Yes, I know He can bring His wrath down upon me at any time. And I know I would be deserving of it. But I also know that He is a merciful God. And He is merciful because He loves me. And I am so humbled by this great love.

I'm not perfect. I still fall. I still fail. I still disappoint. I still have thoughts I should not entertain. I'm trying to conquer them. But I resolve to do better in the coming year. I'm sure that means He will ask me to stretch my boundaries. He might ask me to do something difficult. He might ask me to sacrifice something hard. But whatever He asks, I'm sure of this one thing: He is deserving of more than I can ever repay. And yes, He could very well come this very night before the stroke of midnight. Are you ready?

No comments: