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Now What?

posted Dec 12, 2017, 1:38 PM by Fccea Webmaster   [ updated Jan 26, 2018, 5:23 AM by Kelly Griffin ]

When he was 88 years of age, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes found himself on a train. When the conductor came by, Justice Holmes could not find his ticket. He was terribly upset and searched all his pockets, wallet and briefcase without success. The sympathetic conductor said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Holmes, the Pennsylvania Railroad is happy to trust you. When you find your ticket, just mail it to us.” Holmes replied, “My dear man, my problem is not ‘Where is my ticket?’ My problem is ‘Where am I going?’”

I suspect that could be said of a lot of people, “My problem is, ‘Where am I going?’”

Most of us enjoy an occasional road trip. I well remember the first one I ever took on my own. I left no stone unturned to be prepared. I had maps of all the places I would pass through. I investigated the road conditions as thoroughly as possible in those ancient days before smart-phones and instant information! I had the car checked over from front to back; I made provision for possible emergencies. I was prepared.

But isn’t it interesting that most of us plan more carefully how to reach our destination for a road trip than for something that is ultimately of far greater significance – our eternal destination? I fear that most of us devote precious little time and attention to preparation for that eventuality.

There is help available. Had Justice Holmes been able to find his ticket, he’d have known exactly where he was going. Similarly, the ticket for our eternal destination is available and definitely not lost. But God’s Word is much neglected – and might as well be lost for all the attention it gets.

Its core message is that there is a God who graciously created mankind in His image and likeness and gave them the enviable responsibility and privilege of magnifying His matchless glory. But instead, we have forsaken that God-given honor to seek our own ends and promote our own glory, rendering us ineligible for the eternal life that He wishes to grant to all.

It further teaches that God graciously provided the means of redemption for all who will believe by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, to take the guilt of our rebellion on himself, pay the penalty for that guilt through His death and resurrection, thus providing redemption for all who will humble themselves before Him. It’s a wonderful story of good news for a fallen race, providing a ticket to eternal life if we will but accept it.

But most of us prefer to question the validity of the message and the deity of the Messenger. At best, we decide we’ll just wing it, hoping for the best with little or no true investigation or preparation for the reckoning we know is inevitable.

We are like Benjamin Franklin who, when asked about his religious faith near the end of his life, replied, “As to Jesus of Nazareth . . . I have some doubts as to his Divinity, although it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.” The problem, of course, is that the message from the Creator is that later will be too late as “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). Surely it is worth a little investment of time to investigate now what it all means.

 We don’t want to end like writer William Saroyan. Shortly before his death in 1981, he phoned an Associated Press reporter with one last Saroyanesque observation: “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?” Now what, indeed!

Published in The Tribune November 25, 2017