I truly didn't think it was possible, but apparently, there is no shortage of "end of days" scenarios, and Hollywood is doing its level best to make sure they capitalize on all of them before Dec. 21, 2012.
Yes, that's the correct date, if you're a fan of the Mayan calendar and believe that somehow this ancient civilization possessed the secrets of time, including when it will end.
I specify the date because a recent news story focused on some confusion as to the date, with some believing that time and who knows what all else, will end on Dec. 12, 2012. I'll admit, it looks great on paper: 12/12/12, but that doesn't change the fact that the Mayan calendar allegedly draws all things to a close nine days later.
I can hear the hue and the cry from here, some nine months prior. "Wait! I still have nine days left!"
If we needed one more argument to underscore Jesus' words that "No man knows the day or the hour," this assumption that we've got "nine days left!" easily fills the bill.
A former neighbor in Brighton, who struggled mightily with alcohol abuse, simply ran out of time one day. In spite of the warnings, in spite of interventions, in spite of the wise words of those who had successfully navigated the course to sobriety, Tim continued on his destructive course and died.
My dad's health was bad from birth. Mom lived with the tension of balancing his health and life expectancy against the realities of raising five children - the specter of early widowhood sometimes overtaking the joy of any given day. Though none of the 5 D's understood that tension while we were growing up, we all admitted to being surprised by Mom's early demise at 49 - and by Dad's longevity as he lived almost the full number of any man's life expectancy at the time, dying just weeks after his 71st birthday.
Whitney Houston, troubled in mind and spirit, had no thought of dying on the day she died. She, too, simply ran out of time. As did Michael Jackson; our neighbor on the hill, Bob; and too many others to name.
My former neighbor, Juanita, said it best after her husband of 75 years, Earl, died back in the late '80s. "Life is short, no matter how long it lasts."
I've been reading a new book for review that doesn't pull any punches about the issue of time and how each of us should measure our days, because they truly are numbered. (I say that with utter confidence in spite of the Cancer Treatment of America's commercial that claims that they didn't see an expiration date on "Peggy.") The author of the book, Karen M. Wyatt, M.D., knows whereof she speaks. She has cared for innumerable hospice patients and has learned from the dying how to live -- today. The review will be out shortly.
One of the lessons learned is that too many people, sometimes even the dying, leave too much undone, unfinished, unsaid or unlearned, because they believe they have at least "nine more days" coming.
Each of these are important, some more than others. For instance, if the dishes are undone, no big deal. If my column isn't finished, readers can enjoy the truncated version and choose their own ending.
Things left unsaid, however, should only be the things that never should have been spoken in the first place - words of anger, deception or betrayal. Believe it? Say it. Love her? Tell her. Love God? Tell him. Every day.
Lessons unlearned? Look at that one carefully. In order to see your future syllabus, you need only to look at your past. What have you learned thus far? Who has been your teacher and why? The human heart seeks to emulate the perceived heart of one deemed worthy of admiration. (I received straight A's in the third quarter of my seventh grade science class, not because I was suddenly the brightest bulb in the early morning class, but because I hung on every word spoken by our student teacher, a young, handsome man just out of college.)
I have had many teachers over the years, some good, some bad. And my life syllabus is unique to me, just as yours is to you. One thing I have come to understand is that lessons unlearned are repeated and life never fails to provide the needful lessons. I have also come to understand, sometimes, we simply run out of time.
Learn today's lessons well, and choose today's teacher carefully, because there will be a test, given by the Teacher spoken of in Matthew 23:8. His syllabus is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7, concluding with the words: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
"When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law." Matthew 7:29 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.