Well, another Christmas has come and gone. I hope yours was a merry one.
When I was a child, the time between Christmases seemed interminable; today, it seems like we no sooner finish one Christmas than the next one is upon us. Alvin Tofler was right when he observed, "Time skips by at an ever accelerating pace."
This year Christmas snuck up on me. It seemed that one minute it was a distant thought and the next I found myself scrambling to get all my Christmas shopping done on time. Sound familiar?
We all make promises that next year we are not going to procrastinate. We have every good intention of keeping that promise, then the reality of the time skipping by at that accelerating pace hits us, and once again we find ourselves in a scramble to get ready for Christmas on time. Frankly, sometimes the holidays are more stressful than they are enjoyable. Worse, in that process the true meaning of Christmas, if not completely lost to us, is shoved into a small corner of remembrance and all but ignored.
All of this got me thinking how easy it is for us to procrastinate about the most important area of our lives — the spiritual area. In an age of increasing medical awareness, few of us neglect the physical aspect of our lives. The amount spent on gym memberships and in the cosmetic industry confirms this observation. Very few people neglect the social area of their lives. I am amazed at the number of people I observe eating out with friends in a struggling economy, but this seems to be a priority for many. Mentally, most try to stay sharp. But when it comes to the spiritual area of our lives, like the true meaning of Christmas, this vital area of life gets shoved into the corner of our busy lives and virtually ignored. Many recognize the importance of the spiritual side of life; they just don’t plan for it.
Solomon wrote, "Young man, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it! Do all you want to; take in everything, but realize that you must account to God for everything you do. So banish grief and pain, but remember that youth, with a whole life before it, can make serious mistakes. Don’t let the excitement of being young cause you to forget about your Creator. Honor him in your youth before the evil years come — when you’ll no longer enjoy living," (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1, The Living Bible).
A good friend of mine, Jim Thurston is fond of saying, "It is never too soon to accept Christ, but at any moment it could be too late." As a pastor I sometimes find myself counseling people who have neglected the spiritual side of their lives and now are living with the regrets of that decision. It wasn’t that they were against church; it’s just that it wasn’t priority for them and because it wasn’t priority for them, their children now have absolutely no interest in spiritual things.
As we approach the New Year, let’s remember how quickly time gets away from us. Let’s remember good intentions do not make for real change. In all my years in ministry, I have yet to meet a person who said that their only regret in life was that they didn’t spend more time at the office, but I have met plenty who said they regretted not spending more time with their families. I have yet to find anyone who has stated that they regretted not having more recreational time, but I have met plenty who said they have regretted their neglect of the spiritual side of life.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church.E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org.