Monday, July 9, 2012

When the Last Tear Is Cried

Ironic that, having written my last post on priorities and "not having enough time for anything," I followed that up by slipping into a nearly-three-months-long--and entirely unplanned--hiatus from blogging. I could blame an expanded job search and an overload of freelance assignments--or I could be honest and admit that an overload of nonessential reading, too much time on low-priority e-mail, and plain old "what's-the-use-nothing-ever-works-for-me-anyway" self-pity played at least as big a part.

Most of us have felt that "how did I manage to waste a whole week/month/year?" guilt sensation. For some, it's considerably more painful (and durable) than a moment of regret. Few things are sadder than someone who has become a (barely) living epitome of the old lines, "First, I was dying to finish school and get a real job. Then I was dying to get married. Then I was dying for my kids to grow up so we'd have some quiet around the house. Then I was dying for the day I could retire.... And now, I am dying, and I suddenly realize that I forgot to live." I believe that someone else has said regret fuels the flames of hell, and not only in the afterlife. The regrets of years lost are many people's worst demons: those little voices whispering constantly, "You blew your chance.... you wasted your life.... now it's too late to redeem yourself."

The good news, and the fact most of us fail to grasp, is that we don't have to redeem our own mistakes--indeed, young or old, we never could. As Christians, we who are quite willing to accept the concept of atonement for blatant sins and for our general sinfulness condition find it hard to believe that God's power to redeem extends to the good things we were too lazy or fearful to do when the opportunity stood open. No, God never rewinds the clock so we can do things again differently; but if we yield fully to Him now, regardless of how much earthly time we have left, we will be surprised at how much He yet has for us to do.

Someday, "God himself will... wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:3-4). Surely the tears and pain He wipes away will include those regrets for things done and left undone.

And surely one of the things to pass away forever will be the wasting of time.

When the last tear is cried,
And the last sun is set,
And this old world is gone,
God will be with us yet.

When all earth's work is ceased,
And no more left to do,
When the stars lose their shine,
God will make all things new.

When time comes to an end,
And earth's hours cease to be,
We shall be strong and new,
And in God ever free.

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