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posted Jun 2, 2014, 8:05 AM by Jesse Griffin
A woman got a jury notice on her 80th birthday. She called the clerk’s office to remind them she was exempt because of her age. She was told that she must fill out exemption forms. “But I filled them out last year,” she replied. Told she had to fill them out every year she asked, “Why? Do you think I’m getting younger?”

Not much chance of that, is there? No one has yet found a way to turn back the clock, so the occasional reminder that time is running out is not a bad thing.

In “As You Like It”, Shakespeare reminds us: “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players: / They have their exits and their entrances.” Then he gets melancholy: “Last scene of all, / That ends this strange eventful history, / Is second childishness and mere oblivion, / Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

That’s a rather doleful reminder that if there are things we want to accomplish, now is the time. Perhaps there are wrongs we need to right. People who need our attention. Plans that need to get implemented. Legacies that need to get cemented. A bucket list that needs to get kicked off (no pun intended). Projects that need to be completed. We’re not getting any younger!

But is preparing for the end enough? Is it possible that we also need to be preparing for a new beginning?

Whether or not one is “religious”, the fact is that there is something deep inside us that says, “There must be more. Surely I am not meant to enter, live and exit all within so short a time. I long for more!”

C. S. Lewis suggests that the longing itself is a clue to an extended reality. He comments, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” He goes on to suggest that our current reality is merely an echo or mirage of some greater reality.

If Lewis is right, then our own nature confirms information contained in what purports to be the written revelation of a personal God – the Bible. It affirms that this existence is not all there is. It affirms that there is more to come. It affirms the potential to have unfulfilled desires fulfilled. It also affirms that decisions made now dramatically affect that extended future. Preparation beyond this life is required.

Yogi Berra once said, "You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there."

God agrees. Heaven is not automatic. We have individually taken it upon ourselves to be our own god, run our own lives, set our own agenda and write our own script, all contrary to God’s character. This would exempt us from the future we were made for apart from the forgiveness He offers on the basis of payment made for our waywardness by His own Son, Jesus Christ. It’s a gift, but it must be accepted by faith.

A guy was pulled over for speeding. Looking for leniency he sheepishly asked, “Officer, did you notice that yesterday was my birthday?” The patrolman replied, “I sure did, because that’s when your license expired!”

That’s the gospel as well. “It is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgment.” We have to prepare for that future now – and time is running out.

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton (

Published in The Tribune on May 31st, 2014.