Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Being cheated out of summer


"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." -John 10:10

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

If I seem somewhat dazed today, the truth is I am! You see, I've had almost a month to work myself into a deep pit of despair, and I'm determined to work through it before I finish writing this article.

Glancing yet again at my scheduling calendar, open on my desk, I am pained afresh by the knowledge that summer is gone. And as that poignancy gives way to misery, I find myself asking over and over: Where did all the time go?

Whatever happened to all those plans and dreams and hopes I had in June?

What became of my strategy to "get organized," or my resolve to read all those books?

They never happened. All those lofty goals never really got off the ground.

And today, a few weeks after Labor Day, I feel cheated! I feel as if a bandit has robbed me of my summer.

All too well, I remember days when I had ample opportunity to get some of my plans accomplished. Yet, choosing instead to do what I wanted to do, I put off the important and necessary tasks until the next day.

Sadly, that "next day" never arrived.

Perhaps that is typical of you, too.

Often when we possess the time and energy to get those important things done, something more enjoyable or more exciting comes along-and the necessary, the vital, the important duties are never accomplished.

The people with whom we most often deal with in life never cheat us as much as we cheat ourselves.

I recall that old saying: We are our own worst enemy.

While grieving missed opportunities today, however, a different thought has occurred to me: If I cheat myself out of so many important opportunities, only to find myself disappointed and frustrated, how does God feel when we misuse the time God has given to us?

Have you ever thought about that?

Because of our stubbornness and our inability to comprehend the "full" life that God has given us, we cheat ourselves out of so much.

By defrauding ourselves, aren't we in a sense living on the crumbs of life -when God desires for us to have the entire loaf?

Are we so set on tomorrow that we miss the many blessings of today?

Have we become so preoccupied with pleasures and enjoyment that we have cheated ourselves and forgotten how to really live?

Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly."

With those words, he tells us that, because we are the children of God, we can embrace life at its full potential.

Why deny ourselves so much when that potential life is within our reach?

What is your life worth?

We are like the farmer who delivered a load of hay to the market, to be weighed and sold.

He carefully drove the load onto the weight scale and then stood to the side of the load -but still on the scale.

The operator weighed the hay, paid the man according to the weight, and the wagon was moved on, to be unloaded.

The farmer turned back toward his fields, but he heard the weigh master calling to him, "You sold yourself for 23 cents!"

Amusing as it seems, this is precisely what we do.

If we would consider evaluating our lives as Christ evaluates us, we would save ourselves from doing harm so many times to our own souls.

Some of us view life as a bargain-hunting experience, and the cheapness of our merchandise has made the "good" life impossible for us. We have used shoddy materials in our life's foundation, and it won't hold up the superstructure that Jesus desires for all of us.

Are you waiting for tomorrow?

Just as I put off doing important things that I had planned to do, during a summer now past, I wonder how many of you are putting off the abundant life until tomorrow - until a tomorrow that will never really come.

Apart from Jesus, our lives will be only half-filled, half-complete.

Christ is the only one I know who can remove from us this feeling of being cheated and defrauded in life. He is the only one who can bring wholeness, mental and spiritual health, enabling us to "look up, laugh, love and live."

The writer T.S. Eliot asks, "Where is the Life that we have lost in living?"

There is no better time than now to stop cheating ourselves and start living. Christ wants us to find that fuller life than we now know and to live according to life's utmost potential.

That life isn't one of living high, wide, and handsome. It isn't a life doing those things we felt we shouldn't do.

It is simply a matter of living in a way to better appreciate what God puts before us.

While writing today's column, I turned to the words in a devotional booklet that help me feel better about my lost plans for summer and my sense of being cheated and robbed.

In one of the selections, this striking expression is written: "With God's help, I'm going to put sparkle into my work!"

That's what I need! Sparkle! The days of this summer are gone, but new days of service for God are yet to come.

Maybe, just maybe, I can let go that which I feel I've lost, and discover instead what God has in store for me!

Go out and sparkle!


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