Investing in Eternity

“Live every day as if it were going to be your last; for one day you’re sure to be right.”~ Harry Harbord Morant

A not-so-funny thing happened on my way to work. The morning began with promise; I awoke early and was already well prepared for an important luncheon appointment set to take place later that day. I was rested, my mind seemed sharp, and, on top of everything else, I was having a good hair day. Those only come around once every month or two, so I’ve learned to make the most of them when they do. As I headed down the hall to breakfast, I felt at my best, ready to take on the world. 

My sweet wife prepared breakfast for me as she frequently does, so I sat down to a plate of oat grain toast with butter and a glass of orange juice. We held hands, offered thanks to God, and with my mind on what lay ahead, I hastily took a bite of toast. It was in that moment my day took a wicked turn. As I swallowed, I could tell something wasn’t quite right, so I quietly stood, walked to the kitchen door, and stepped outside into the grassy space between our house and carport. I began to cough without a great sense of urgency, thinking to easily rid myself of the errant piece of bread, but the more I struggled to get it up, the deeper it seemed to lodge in my windpipe. Swallowing is not as simple as it seems. The act of swallowing involves more than 30 different muscles in and around the throat that spring into action in less than one second. First, you have to chew food down to a size you know you can swallow, and then your tongue pushes it into the back of the throat, where it has two “pipe” options: the esophagus and the trachea. When somebody feels like something went down the wrong pipe, it usually means that it went into his or her trachea. Panic seized as I realized midst my gagging that I could not breathe. Perhaps I had crudely stumbled on the origin of the phrase “he’s toast.” Having served a number of years as a missionary in Africa and India, enduring more than my share of life threatening events, all I could think of at that moment was that I was strangling on toast, for God’s sake. 

After an embarrassing ordeal, the small particles of bread finally gave way, and I was able once again to breathe. My dignity having gone the way of the toast, I walked back inside, apologized to my wife for the commotion, gathered what I needed for my appointment, and exited stage left. I climbed into my SUV and drove down our lane and onto Flat Rock Road, angry at myself and more than a little shaken by the ordeal. I turned on the radio for distraction, but the lyrics I heard next brought me to tears: 

“Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down; here I am to say that you’re my God…”  

To be completely honest, I wept. “They (tears) are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next” (Buechner). I had been confronted by the fragile nature of this life, remembering before it was too late that God is all that really matters, and that worship is as much preparation for dying as it is a way of living. What I do is important, but in the end, the value of my life will be measured not by how much I’ve done, but by how well I have loved Him. Every breath is an invitation to love. I am not merely spending time in these common moments of adoration; I am investing in eternity.

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