Indiana University backup quarterback Zander Diamont has decided to forego his final season of eligibility. He has suffered a series of concussions and knows that their cumulative effect could be dangerous to his health and future. As Diamont puts it, “I need my brain.”
It is hard to know when to stop doing something we love doing. We can all think of athletes who played beyond their prime and preachers who preached when they should have retired. The best way to live this life is to live it as it comes—one day at a time.
C. S. Lewis is my intellectual mentor and hero. He was born on this day in 1898, but his books sell more copies today than ever. Why is his work still so relevant? As Lewis observed, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”
His insights about time and eternity are especially profound. In The Screwtape Letters he has a chief tempter named Screwtape offer this explanation regarding the ways of God (called the “Enemy” by the demon):
“The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them for eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.
“He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”
Screwtape is exactly right: God wants us to live in the present in light of eternity. So we should ask of every moment, How can I serve and glorify my Father now? How does this decision advance his Kingdom? What will this action do to help others follow Jesus?
No one in the Bible received a five-year plan. The Apostle Paul was trying to go east when he was called west (Acts 16:6–10). He had no way to know that his obedience to the Macedonian vision would bring the gospel to what we call the Western world. He was just trying to stay faithful to the call of God.
Christmas proves that God measures success by obedience. No one visiting the manger that night would have been impressed by its participants or setting. Lowly field hands, peasant parents, smelly animals, all crowded around a helpless newborn boy in a cave. What could be more commonplace or less elegant?
Now we know better. Now we know that Jesus’ incarnational obedience to his Father’s call made possible the eternal salvation of billions. All because he lived by this simple commitment to his Father: “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
If you’ll dare to say those words to God right now, eternity will never be the same.