You’ve heard the stories. “You kids have it so easy. Why when I was young, I had to walk five miles, barefoot, one way to school through 3 feet of snow.” While that might be a tall tale, the truth is some things are easier nowadays.
There used to be a time in the not too distant past where, wait for it, we did not have the internet, computers, or cell phones. When you wanted to buy something you had to go to an actual store and get it! Not order it on an app and have it delivered to your door.
I remember before Christmas, holiday catalogs would arrive via snail mail. We kids would open them up and pour through the pages, dog-earring the pages of the goodies we hoped to get as presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Our loving parents, would then have to order those items at the store, with an actual human being, or by phone. Then you’d wait. Usually when the items arrived, you would get a phone call from the store and have to go down and pick them up. Which prevented worries about porch pirates stealing it!
It was delayed gratification. You lived in excited, delicious anticipation awaiting what was coming. Even if it was not the holiday season, you’d place an order and possibly have to wait weeks before it arrived. You knew something was coming and had to be patient until it showed up.
If you wanted to look something up, you had to go to the library, or look it up in the set of encyclopedias you bought each year, as new information became available. There was no Google or Wikipedia. You had to wait to gain that knowledge. It was not instantly available.
If you wanted to talk to someone, you called them on the phone using a land line. There was only one phone in the house, usually in the front hall or kitchen. When the phone rang in the middle of the night, you had to get up out of bed and go to it. And before the invention of an answering machine, you’d have to wait until the person on the other end got to the phone and picked it up. Sometimes you’d have to try time and again before you got them on the other end. If you’d leave a message on their answering machine, you’d have to wait until they got home and listened to it. There was no texting or instant messaging. Communication was not instantly available.
Before you were able to stream your programs, you would go to a store and browse the shelves to find a VHS tape to rent. Sometimes, when you got home with it, you’d have to put it into the VCR player and rewind the tape to the beginning of the movie before you could even watch it.
The final season of Games of Thrones is being released on DVD on Dec 3, and I logged into the library to put my name on the waiting list. I only have 110 people in line before it is my turn to borrow it, and it has not even been released yet! Now that is delayed gratification!
But the best example of delayed gratification I can think of is, when I die, I get to spend eternity with God in heaven! “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47 [NIV])
Which got me to thinking that people who wrote fairy tales read the Bible. How else would they have come with the ending, “and they lived happily ever after!”
For those who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, the choice is eternity in hell. “They will be punished with with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” (2 Thes. 1:9 [NIV])
Edward D. Griffin, born in 1770, was training to become a lawyer. He fell ill in 1791. On his sickbed, feeling miserable, and began to think, “if I cannot bear this for a short time, how can I bear the pains of hell forever?” This lead him to trust in Jesus as his Savior. After his conversion, he wondered if he should change his profession and become a minister. He prayed that God would give him direction. He found a passage that in his own words said, “preaching the everlasting gospel and plucking souls as brands from the burnings.” (See Jude 23) In less than forty-five minutes, he became certain that he was called to preach the gospel. And preach he did. He trained under Jonathan Edwards Jr. The blessing of God on his ministry was almost unequaled among America preachers. His ministry was one of almost unbroken revival.(Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten)
Heaven or hell is a sobering choice we must all face. But there is Good News!
“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecc. 3:11 [NIV])
“Lead me in the way of everlasting.” (Ps. 139:24b [NIV])
“For this world in not our permanent home, we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Heb. 13:14 [NLT])
“Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city built with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Heb.11:10 [NLT])
“For we continue to look forward to the joyful fulfillment of our hope in the dawning splendor of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus, the Anointed One. He sacrificed himself for us that he might purchase our freedom from every lawless deed and to purify for himself a people who are his very own, passionate to do what is beautiful in his eyes.” (Titus 2:13-14 [TPT])
Knowing the two choices that are available for everyone, I want to live each day with eternity on my mind. I do not want to miss an opportunity to share the choice of truth with someone, and have it be my fault they spend eternity in hell. I might not have a tomorrow to tell them about Jesus.
Casper Wyrtzen was born in 1913 in Brooklyn. He dropped out of high school and joined the National Guard when he was eighteen. It was during this period that he committed is life to Jesus. But he was afraid to share of his new commitment to Jesus with others, for fear of what they would think. Later that year a friend told him that his brother had died in a car accident two weeks earlier. The friend then said, “If you knew about this heaven thing and that hell is for real, how come you never told me or my brother about it? If my brother had known, he might have believed. He could have been in heaven right now. But you never said a thing!” Deeply convicted, Casper prayed that night. “Lord, never again will someone I know die without hearing the gospel.” After one missed opportunity, he never wanted to miss another. (Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten)
With whom do you believe God would have you share your faith? The first step is to start praying for them and then be ready to share when the opportunity comes. Because God will send it.
“God our Savior, wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4 [NIV])
“He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
“You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive.” (2 Tim. 2:26 [MSG])
“I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16 [NLT])
“When he comes [the Holy Spirit] he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8 [NIV])
“But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:9 [NIV])
We don’t have to be afraid, worry, or stress out about sharing. We just do our part and the rest is up to God. It doesn’t happen under our power, but God’s. That sure takes a big weight off our shoulders.
So don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Give someone else the exquisite pleasure of delayed gratification, living in excited anticipation knowing that they get to spend eternity with Jesus too. And all God’s children lived happily ever after.
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