Tasks that are finished and ships that have sailed

“It is finished” (John 19:30).

In a panel discussion regarding the movie Saving Mr. Banks, actor Tom Hanks, who plays Walt Disney in the film, tells of the final conversation between Disney and the creator of Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers.

“Just after the premiere of the movie, Mrs. Travers said, ‘Oh, we have much work to do on this movie, Mr. Disney. Much work indeed.’

Disney said to her, ‘Pam, that ship has sailed,’ and walked away.”

Hanks says, “It was the last time they ever spoke.”

That ship has sailed.

It’s a wonderful expression to indicate tasks that are complete and should now be set aside, events that are now history and cannot be changed, projects that are finished and cannot be tampered with.

When a movie is “in the can,” as they say, it’s done.

Here are a few other over-and-done things that come to mind, ships that have sailed….

Continue reading

On finding yourself in a burning building. Or sinking ship.

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be…” (2 Peter 3:11)

The issue of faith–to believe or not to believe–says John Ortberg, “is never just a question of calculating the odds for the existence of God.  We are not just probability calculators. We live in a burning building.  It’s called a body. The clock is ticking.”  (“Know Doubt,” p.32)

Ortberg doesn’t mind mixing metaphors.  We live in a burning building; the clock is ticking.

So true.

Yes, and the Titanic which we call Earth is sinking (with too many people occupied with re-arranging deck chairs). The universe is winding down.  The sun which supports life on earth and is the center of our solar system has an expiration date, scientists say.

The physical creation has a shelf life expiration date.

A plethora of metaphors come to mind, all directed toward establishing one giant fact: You and I should not be planning to live forever, in this body or on this earth.

These abodes are temporary.

It is true that these are all we know. I’ve never lived outside this body or anywhere but on this planet. And that’s where faith comes in. There is something else out there, something better, something higher, more solid, more lasting, awaiting the redeemed in Jesus Christ.

Continue reading

Getting ready for the final exam

“Pastor, my aunt Bernice would like you to visit her this week. There’s something she wants to talk with you about.”

I knew this young deacon’s Aunt Bernice. She was up in years and sickly, and while not a member of our church, she was related to quite a number. I figured with her years and health, she wanted to talk with the minister about getting read to see the Lord.

She did, but not in the way I had expected.

The next afternoon, as we sat in the living room of her small shotgun house, she said, “Pastor, I know I’m saved. I have no doubt about that. I remember being saved. But there’s something else bothering me.”

“Pastor, I haven’t done right by the church.”

She continued, “As a young adult, I got away from the church and quit going. I raised my son without the church and really came to regret it. And now I’m old and can’t even go. But if you’d let me, I’d like to put my membership in and become a member. I’ll pray for you all and send an offering from my monthly check.”

I assured her we would be honored to receive her, and took care of that the next Sunday.

I never forgot her statement—“I haven’t done right by the church”—and have had occasion over the years since to tell her story, then ask my hearers, “Have you done right by the Lord’s church?”

A man in our congregation was dying. On one occasion as I visited in his home, he asked to speak to me privately. I felt it coming: he wanted to confess something that was bothering him before he went to meet the Savior.

I was right.

“Pastor,” he said, “when I was a much younger man, I did some experimentation in my personal life that I’m ashamed of.”

He told the story, then said, “I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me, but it still troubles me. I don’t want to go into eternity with that on the record. Can you help me?”

Have you ever had one of those times when you felt the nearness of the Lord so heavily you could almost reach out and touch Him? That moment was just so.

I said, “My dear brother, the Lord has forgiven you for that sin and all the others. Jesus Christ paid for your sins with His blood.”

He looked at me and said nothing. So I added something I had never said in my entire life to that point.

“I want you to know, I forgive you for your sin.

At that moment, I knew what it means to be a priest. I was standing in the stead of the Lord Himself for a brief shining instant.

The peace of the Lord washed over him and a few days later, he went to heaven.

I need to make a confession here.

Continue reading