Do You Remember Where You Were?

John Hill

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."  Ephesians 5:15-17

I remember the day that Magic Johnson retired from basketball.  For me, as a young man who thoroughly enjoyed basketball, and especially the Lakers, it was a hard day.  Some events are just the sort that they serve as collective markers for all of us that stamp into our minds an impression that will never leave.  For some, the assassination of JFK is like that; for others, it may be when the Space Shuttle exploded, or when the dam burst in New Orleans.

Yet, one even epitomizes a collective memory like no other:  the terrorist attacks that occured on 9/11.  Almost everyone over the age of 16 can remember exactly where they were when they heard about it.  I know that I was at home and my mom called me in shock.  She could hardly speak the words as I rushed to turn on the TV.

But, one thing that many forget was the way in which the entire nation, it seemed, went to church in the following days to try and get some grip on what just happened.  For many pastors and church leaders, they can remember every seat being filled as people came in droves hoping for some answers and comfort as our nation recovered from the shock of being attacked on our own soil.

For at least one day, it appeared as if all of America had gone to church.  There was an urgency that has rarely been felt since; and unfortunately for most, the urgency was only felt that one day.  As time went on, life pretty much returned to normal and the churches were once again left with many open seats.

It would be easy to assume that opportunities like that only come around once in a lifetime because we live in evil days.  Yet, according to the Apostle Paul, there are still opportunities and we have a responsibility to make the most of them.  And the only way to do that is to live our lives with care and with wisdom.  He defines living wisely as being perceptive enough to notice opportunities and seize them.

We do that by understanding what God's will is and God's greatest will is to be glorified among His creation and the greatest way to glorify God is to come to Him and bring others to Him.  We don't have to wait for collective moments to do that; we can do it every day.  But it starts by opening our eyes to the people around us, and listening to what they are saying and doing, and then reaching out to meet the needs that they are struggling with in the love and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The only reasons that people didn't return to churches after 9/11 were either they didn't like the answers that the church was giving, or the church wasn't answering the questions that people asked.  We cannot do anything about people not liking the answers if they are correct, but we can be wise and careful to make the most of the opportunities we have by answering the real questions and meeting the real needs of those around us.

Will you open your eyes?  Will you make the most of your time?  Will someone remember the day you spoke to them about coming to Jesus Christ?  Will they remember that you met real needs and cared for them, too?

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