Some glad morning, when this live is o’er
I’ll fly away
To a home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I grew up singing those words it seems like every other Sunday morning. It was one of my church’s favorites. We would sit in those pews, sing the words we’d sung hundreds of times and dream of how heaven would be.
In more recent years we learned to sing I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe, another anthem of wonder and longing for The End.
Which is certainly not a bad thing. There is this big promise in Scripture, the idea that this whole story is leading somewhere. There are hints of beauty — streets of gold, crystal seas, a big wedding feast. But there are also allusions that make us uneasy — judgement, pain and regret.
In many ways, Christians live with one eye on the present and one eye on The End.
Which is what I see in the Parable of the Talents, the story from our readings this week in Matthew 25. A master leaves for a trip and entrusts some money to his servants. And they do varying things with their bags of silver because they all know that eventually, the master will return. They act because they know there will be an end to their story.
And of course two of them do well, investing their money in some way and making a return. But the last one chooses to bury his money, afraid of what will happen at the end. Which gets him in hot water with the master.
Not because his return was poor. Not because he didn’t double it like a seasoned investment banker. Not because he wasn’t as talented as the other two.
The master was disappointed because he was so concerned about the end that he chose not to act in the present. He got into trouble not because he made a mistake; he disappointed the master because he did nothing.
We cannot let our fear or anticipation of The End keep us from living well in the present.
I’m glad that as Christians, we are cued in on the finish to the story. The finish line is motivation and reminds us of where we are going. But I cannot let that vision cloud my awareness of today.
Paul was telling his audience a similar message in 1 Thessalonians 5. He told them that they are aware of what will happen at the end. So how should that affect us? “Be on your guard. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Encourage each other. Build each other up.” In other words, let your knowledge of the end help you live well now, not distract you from the journey.
College basketball has gotten started this week. One of my favorite coaches of all time is Mike Krzyzewski, the hall of fame coach at Duke University. Once he was asked for advice on how to navigate the basketball season. His response:
“You should live the journey. You should live it right. You should live it together. You should live it shared. You should try to make one another better. You should get on one another if somebody’s not doing their part. You should hug one another when they are. You should be disappointed in a loss and exhilarated in a win. It’s all about the journey.”
So today may we all live the journey well. May you exalt in your triumphs and ache in your losses. May you celebrate and grieve and help one another and cry and laugh and learn and share and grow. May your journey be full of life.
Because although we may know of The End, it’s not here yet.