PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Burden of Living in All Three Tenses-at One Time!” By: Ron Woodrum
In his book-For The Living of These Days, William M. Elliott Jr. observes, “The reason so many of us are overwrought, tense, distracted, and anxious is that we have never mastered the art of living one day at a time. Physically we do live one day at a time. We can’t quite help ourselves. But mentally we live in all three tenses at once-past, present, and future…And that will not work! The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes even the strongest falter!” Perhaps this helps us understand why the Word of God repeatedly tells us the fact that man’s time on this earth is measured in terms of days! Hear these witnesses: “Our days upon earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9); “Are thy days as the days of man? Are thy years as man’s days?” Job asks… (Job 10:5); “Man that is born of a woman is of few days” (Job 14:1); So, Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). That is one lesson it seems to take a lifetime for all of us to finally learn it. I came across a story, written by a songwriter, turned newspaper column writer by the name of Billy Rose. He had a famous column years ago called “Pitching Horseshoes”. One of his stories speaks to this very issue of learning to slow down and let God give us his perspective on life and how to live it in such a way to make an impact for Him, instead of letting it go by in a hectic hurry, and coming to an end with regret and sorrow. We still have time to rewrite our story! Slow down and live it for Him…while you still have the “days” of your life.
Here is that story, from “Pitching Horseshoes”: “There was once a fellow who, with his father, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up their ox cart with vegetables and drive to the nearest city. Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believed in taking it easy…and the son was the go-getter type. One morning, they loaded the cart, hitched up the ox, and set out. The young man figured that if they kept going all day and night, they’d get to the market by the next morning. He walked alongside the ox and kept prodding it with a stick. ‘Take it easy’ said the old man, ‘you’ll last longer!’ ‘If we get to the market ahead of the others’ said the son, ‘we have a better chance of getting good prices for our vegetables’. The old man pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep on the seat, four miles down the road they came to a little house. ‘Here is your uncle’s place’ said the father waking up, ‘Let’s stop and say hello’. ‘We’ve lost an hour already’, complained the go-getter. ‘Then a few more minutes won’t matter!’ said the father, ‘My brother and I live so close, but we seldom see each other’. The young man fidgeted while the two old gentlemen gossiped away for an hour. On the move again, the father took his turn leading the ox. By and by, they came to a fork in the road. The old man directed the ox to the right. ‘The left is the shorter way’, said the boy. ‘I know it’, said the old man, ‘but this way is the scenic way’. ‘Have you no respect for time?’ asked the impatient son. ‘I respect it very much!’, said the father, ‘that is why I use it to take in this beautiful scenery’. The right path led through the woodlands filled with blossoming wild flowers that would take your breath away. They only irritated the young man! He was too busy watching the sinking sun. Twilight found them in what looked like one big garden. ‘Let’s sleep here’ said the old man. ‘This is the last trip I take with you! replied his son. ‘You’re more interested in flowers than in making money!’ he scolded. ‘That’s the nicest thing you said in a long time!’, replied his dad. A minute later he was asleep. A little before dawn, the young man shook his father awake, and they went on. After a mile and an hour, they came upon a farmer trying to pull his cart out of a ditch. ‘Let’s give him a hand’, said the farmer. ‘And lose more time?’, exploded the son. ‘Relax’ said the old man. ‘You might be in a ditch some time yourself”. By the time the other cart was back on the road, it was almost eight o’clock. Suddenly a great flash of lightning split the sky. Then there was thunder. Beyond the hills, the heavens grew dark. ‘Looks like a big rain in the city’, said the old man. ‘If we had been on time, we’d be sold out by now, and on our way back’, grumbled the son. ‘Take it easy’, the old man said, ‘you’ll last longer!’ It wasn’t until late afternoon that they got to the top of the hill overlooking the town. They looked down on it…for a very long time! Neither of them spoke a word. Finally, the young man who had been in such a hurry said, ‘I see what you mean now father’. They turned their cart around and headed back home…and drove away from the city that had once been the city of Hiroshima, Japan!” LORD TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS, AND LIVE IT OUT FOR YOU…ONE DAY AT A TIME. IT’S A BURDEN TO LIVE IN ALL THREE TENSES AT ONE TIME!