The Paper Pulpit
Yesterday ... today ... tomorrow ... three simple words! Yet, they encompass the entire scope of human history, and even beyond human history into heaven itself. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we plan to be or do, it is important that we realize the importance of all that is included in these three words — yesterday ... today ... tomorrow.
Many people, unfortunately, want to live entirely within the framework of yesterday — “Nothing is as good as it was in the good old days.” Others forget about yesterday and tomorrow altogether and live just for today — “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.” Others are so engrossed in the task of building bigger barns in which to store their goods that they neither live up to their responsibilities in the present nor plan for tomorrow. The beginning of a new year challenges us to examine our lives and our priorities in terms of these three words:
Yesterday: As you take an inventory of your yesterdays, what blessings have you received? Was there a time in the past when you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ? I remember well that August day in 1940 when I became a Christian. It is as real and as meaningful to me today as it was on the day it happened. It is with great joy that I am able to look backward through the corridor of time to a specific yesterday when Jesus Christ came into my life.
Four years after the Titanic sank in 1912 in the Northern Atlantic, a young Scotsman rose in a church meeting in Hamilton, Alberta, Canada, to give his testimony. He mentioned how he had drifted alone on a spar on that awful night when the tide brought a Mr. John Harper, of Glasgow, Scotland, also on a piece of wreck, near him. “Man,” Harper said, “Are you saved?” The young Scotsman answered that he was not. Harper said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). They drifted apart for a while, and then came close together again, and Mr.
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Harper asked him again, “Are you saved now?” And again he replied, “No.” Shortly after that, John Harper sank beneath the waves. At that point the young Scotsman gave his heart to Jesus Christ. What a tremendous “yesterday” he had.
What about your yesterdays? How many people can you remember and name who touched your life in a special way? Did you have a Christian home? If so, you are blessed. Our yesterdays should not be forgotten, for they are the foundation on which we today can experience joy and plan meaningfully for our tomorrows.
Today: What is your top priority? Does your life revolve around nothing more than the meeting of your own needs? If so, please know that you won’t be here forever! Does your life revolve around what you own? Your wealth will not last forever! Is it a high priority for you to the meet your family’s needs? If so, good! Your family will not be here forever either! God has a plan for every life — including yours — and He will reveal it to you. No matter who you are, or what you have chosen to do in life, it is very important that you discover and do God’s will. If you are not a Christian, you have no Christian yesterdays. That doesn’t mean you cannot become a Christian today.
Tomorrow: An ardent admirer once asked Henry Wadsworth Longfellow how he sustained his high level of vigor and productivity. Answering, he turned to an apple tree standing in full view, its blossoms beautiful and fragrant. “That apple tree is very old,” said Longfellow, “but I never saw prettier blossoms on it. I have noticed that the old tree grows a little new wood every year, and out of the new wood these blossoms come. Like the apple tree, I too grow a little new wood each year, and out of this new wood my heart blossoms.” That is the secret of planning for tomorrow. Are you growing any new wood? Jesus said we should not worry about tomorrow. This doesn’t mean we should not plan for it.
In the past year, and every year prior to that, there were obstacles in our pathway. The gift of 365 brand new days provides us with the time and opportunity to commit ourselves to what is yet to be. It is also an excellent time for church members to take an inventory of their yesterdays, to dedicate themselves anew to fulfilling Christ’s mission today, and to move forward with faith and confidence to accept the challenges tomorrow will bring.
One man said, “I would be unstoppable ... if I could only get started.” Getting started is the secret. We are at the starting line for a brand new twelve months. As my track coach used to say, “Take your position! Get set! Go!”
The Rev. D.E. Parkerson is retired pastor of First Baptist Church of Sanford.