It was a game I played in my youth while walking on the sidewalk, any sidewalk.
I would pace my steps so I would not step on a crack or joint. It was a challenge to time my stride without variation. The neat part was I made my own rules.
The game required adjustments. The game always demanded shortened and lengthened steps and sometimes a shuffle here or there. Running and skipping were acceptable strategies. Stepping on a joint had unimaginable consequences like falling into a parallel universe.
In one’s youth, time is filled by imaginary challenges with imaginary consequences. The young play games in the confines of the mind unencumbered by tomorrow. The confines fade soon enough and too soon for some. I had friends who knew sooner and some knew later, but time always prevailed over innocence.
Jesus knew this sidewalk game. We all get to play it, imaginary or real. The sidewalk marks time, demands its own rhythm and awaits our measured misstep. We do not play without consequences and there are always consequences.
Luke’s gospel gives us Jesus on his sidewalk journey. As told in Luke, chapter 9:57-62, it says, “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.’ …Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, Lord let me first go and bury my father.’ …And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’.
Each time Jesus gave a stern reply. To the first he said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” To the second he said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” To the third he said, “No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Why is our Lord so harsh? The sidewalk has its consequences.
Derived from the fatal notion time is on our side, we delay our choice to a distant, obscure and faint future. The human will betrays the vacant and complacent, sometime soul. Jesus knows our heart and reminds us the eternal timeline includes the choice we make now.
A life in Christ means constant prayer, hope in the unseen, loving the unlovable, vigilance without tomorrow’s promise and grasping this moment’s weight. Our decisions today and our delay until tomorrow possess a spiritual gravity with eternal consequences.
Jesus simply says, “What will you do with your now?”
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at email@example.com.