What would you do if you found out you were going to die next week? Would you change anything, make amends, have a party, or sit in grief? A few years ago, my husband received a false diagnosis. He was experiencing chest pains on a flight home, so he drove himself (NOT RECOMMENDED, BY THE WAY) to the nearest Emergency Room when he landed. It was determined that he was not having a heart attack, but an x-ray revealed a mass in his lung. A mournful radiologist informed him that further tests were needed, but it looked like cancer.
The next day he returned for the further tests and met with a specialist who informed him that he had pneumonia and would need several rounds of strong antibiotics. We praised God and that was that. But in the 24 hours between hearing “cancer” and “pneumonia,” he did a lot of reassessing of priorities. One of the funnier decisions he made was that he would take the entire family to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn for a couple of weeks. We would stay in the posh Steeplechase Suite, which is a penthouse suite of rooms that includes bedrooms, a dining room, a living room and a kitchen. It even has a full-length balcony overlooking the water. We like to tease him about that, and I have to say that those 24 hours helped all of us refocus on the priority of family. Since then we have made a much more concerted effort to be together. There is no time to waste.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he tells them that the second coming of Christ was imminent. He encourages them to simplify their lives in preparation. He invites them to reassess their daily routines:
1 Corinthians 7 (The Message)
29-31 I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on.
There are several things that jump out here. Simplifying marriage might mean not reacting to every little picky thing and starting endless arguments. Simplifying grief might mean setting aside a set time to grieve each day and then getting on with things. Simplifying joy might entail celebrating a moment and then moving on to other priorities. But look closely at this next part.
Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is fading away.
Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This is just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it. Truly the news of the world, with all of its despair, violence, injustice, inequality, evil, and pure hatred will consume your daily routine if you let it. TURN OFF THE NEWS, PEOPLE. There is no time to waste in wallowing in things you can’t control.
We are still waiting for Christ to return, and Paul reminds us to make it good time. So evaluate your priorities. Spend time in prayer, scripture reading, witnessing, sharing your joy with your family and friends, and above all, keep it simple. There is no time to waste.