It's Friday and Sunday's Coming!
I remember hearing Tony Campello preach his now famous message entitled, "It's Friday and Sunday's Coming." He tells the story of a "preach-off" and being totally overwhelmed by the message about the challenges of Friday, and the anticipation of the answer coming on Sunday. I've thought of the significance and the meaning of this message often. Each year during Easter season is a likely time to examine the pains of Friday and sunrise of Sunday.
There is so much pain in the world. There is such need for hope.
Realizing that hope is available on Sunday makes the challenges of Friday bearable. The movie "Paul, an Apostle of Christ" was recently released. Judy and I went to see it with some friends. It is a powerful movie with a powerful description of the early church in Rome, Paul's imprisonment, and Luke's dedication to learning all he could from Paul. Thank God he did.
While there are many powerful, touching, and poignant moments in the movie, a big take away for me is the depiction of suffering Christians at the hands of Nero. There are multiple pictures of Christians hoisted on wooden beams in the streets and being torched to light the Via Apia. There is a particular scene where Luke comes around a corner to see a close Christian brother being prepared to light the way, to be burned alive. Luke starts to intervene and the Christian brother motions him away.
There is another scene where 30 or so Christians of both sexes and all ages are brought to the Roman Forum to be slaughtered and eaten by wild animals. Prior to their entry, one of their leaders instructs them in how to die. "The pain will be for only a moment, and then we shall have joy for eternity."
When discussing the movie later, one of our friends asked, "Why do we cling so strongly to life when there is such joy in death?" That is a profound question. And yet we surely do. I just came from an annual physical. After 90 days of a cleansing diet and changed eating habits, the test results were very rewarding. On all fronts the test results were excellent and I'm going off cholesterol and blood pressure medicines that I've been on for years. Leaving the doctor’s office, I was thinking, "That's great, I may live a few years longer." We all hold onto life in our own way.
Being motivated to live longer seems to be built into our DNA. Given that we are created by God for His purposes, perhaps it is that we desire that our service to Him extends for a lifetime - a long lifetime. We accept that God does number our days, yet we'd like Him to make it a larger number: 60 instead of 50, 70 instead of 60, 80 instead of 70 and 90 instead of 80. Sister Jean, the chaplain of the Loyola Chicago Basketball team is 98. She even has a bobble-head doll that is selling like hotcakes. She is a great example that attitude is everything. We admire her and think to ourselves, "I hope I make it to 98 and have a bobble-head doll with my likeness on it!"
My own interpretation and encouragement come from the certain knowledge about my future. First, God does have a plan for my life and “it’s not over until it's over" according to the wise sage, Yogi Berra. Given the understanding of and certainty about God's plan for me, there is always more to come in the Service of the King. There is always another hill to climb, another relationship to grow, and another message to deliver.
Joy comes when we make the transition from the Fridays of our lives to the Sundays of our lives. Yes, the best is yet to come. Regardless of our age, it would be horrible to live without that certainty.
"It's Friday and Sunday's coming!" Let that truth ring in your mind and live in your heart. Listen to the instructions created just for you and follow the paths lined with those instructions.
Moving Forward together.