Monday, March 21, 2022

Life is Short, but There is Still Time!


Luke 13:1-9

Lent 3/ Year C

Did you hear about the nun who procrastinated doing her laundry?  She had a filthy habit. 

What do you call a fire-breathing lizard that procrastinates?  Dragon his feet.

Who does a procrastinator see when he isn’t feeling well?  Dr. Dolittle.

Had enough?

This morning’s reading from the Gospel of Luke is aimed directly at those who assume there always will be a time down the road to tend to what we put off for now.  Some people ask Jesus about an unspecified number of Galileans Pilate had executed as they worshipped in the temple.  Given Jesus is also a Galilean, almost certainly he personally knows some who were lost.  Jesus responds by referencing eighteen people who died when a tower collapsed on them.  Within the language of “none of them were worse sinners than any of you” is the heart of Jesus’ message in the face of these horrific losses: Life is short!

It is a basic truth easy to overlook as one day follows in the footsteps of another and another and another.  For most of us, we only break out of this illusion when we experience a loss confronting us with the shortness and uncertainty of life.

How would you complete the following statement: Life is short…   A little Google research provides some possibilities. 

Life is short.

    Break the rules! 

    Live it!


    Lick the spoon!

    Buy the shoes! 

    Smile while you still have teeth! 

Perhaps the best advice: Kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly, and forgive quickly! 

And how would you complete this variation of the same statement:  Life is too short to… Some suggestions… 

Life is too short to…

    …wake up with regrets. 

    …hide your feelings. 

    …worry about anything. 


    …live with ‘what ifs.’ 

    …waste a single second on someone who doesn’t value or appreciate you. 

    …make excuses. 

    …read a bad book. 

I like what Christine Caine, a Christian author from Australia, says: “Life is too short, the world is too big, and God’s love is too great to live ordinary.

I have always loved the thinking of the poet who wrote the 90th Psalm:

You sweep us away like a dream; *

   we fade away suddenly like the grass.

In the morning it is green and flourishes; *

   in the evening it is dried up and withered.

The span of our life is seventy years,

perhaps in strength even eighty; *

   yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow,

   for they pass away quickly and we are gone.

So teach us to number our days *

   that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Some may find its message to be depressing, even dour.  Given what Jesus says in today’s reading, I would say he finds it to be sobering and motivating.  It tells us it is time to ditch Dr. Dolittle, to stop Dragon our feet, and to make the most of the time we do have.

And this is the second part of Jesus’ message: You still have time!  For the unproductive fig tree, there is another year.  For you and me, who can say?  But there is still time.  If you have been watching the college basketball tournament, chances are you have heard an announcer say something like, “Team X is down by 12, but there is still time for them to get back in this game.”  Maybe you have seen Peter Seidel’s book on climate change titled, “There is Still Time.”  The other day I received an email informing me there is still time to register for next week’s seminar.  Each example combines a sense of hope with a sense of urgency.  Life is a little bit like those infomercials warning us to act now before time runs out on this offer!

I suspect the two times most of us attempt to make a significant course correction in our lives come at the beginning of the year and in Lent.  New Year’s resolutions are fraught with failure, perhaps because most are grounded in will power entirely apart from a spiritual undertaking.  Lent, on the other hand, infamously involves frivolous sacrifices… “I am giving up okra and beets this year”, when it can invoke God’s help to forsake habits and/or embrace changes which truly matter.

And God will help.  In today’s reading we learn Jesus says we have more than time.  We have the Master Gardener working in us and for us to encourage us to be as fruitful as possible.  In other words, God is working with us as we seek to make the best use of our treasure, our talents, and our time.  Stephen Covey, the author of Habits of Highly Effective People notes, “The bad news is time flies, but the good news is you are the pilot.”  We people of faith might add, “And we have a co-pilot we can trust to see us through.”

Here is a question:  What would you do if I promised to deposit $86,400 is your bank account each and every day of the rest of your life, with one condition… one day’s balance does not carry over to the next day.  Whatever you don’t use gets deleted when the bank closes at 5:00 PM.  But not to worry, when it opens the next morning your new account balance for the day will be $86,400.  Does it sound like an offer too good to be true?  Well, the surprising truth is each of us has just such an account.  Rather than money, each day you are credited with time – 86,400 seconds to be exact.  You can’t save it for tomorrow.  You can’t borrow from the future.  You must use your daily allotment of time in the best and wisest way possible.  What are you doing with this gift?  What changes might you make in order to make better use of each day’s deposit?  How is God prodding you and partnering with you to make good use of one of God’s greatest gifts to you… the gift of time?

Remember.  Life is short, but there is still time.