Last night, we dealt specifically with the consequences of sin. Little did Rebecca know when she hatched a deceitful plan for her son Jacob to deceive his father Isaac and get the blessing that was intended for his brother Esau that there would be consequences that would last her whole life. Of these, the most significant is that when Jacob left, at her bidding, to go live with his Uncle Laban, he would wind up being gone for years. In fact, he would be gone so long that she herself would be dead long before he ever returned.
One cannot help but wonder what went through her mind night after night during all those years. And the same is true for Jacob. Remember that there were no telephones, no text messages, no e-mails, nor was there even a postal system for communication. There simply would have been no communication between them.
Years later, when Jacob eventually returned and learned of his mother’s death, one wonders whether he wished he could have said some things to her before she passed and just what these things may have been.
Years ago, a young man from Wisconsin named Berton Braley lost his father when he was seven years of age. Later on in life, he himself became a published author, with works appearing in Forbes Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as some twenty books. His first love, however, was poetry. Indeed, half of his published works were poetry collections.
He is best remembered today for a poem he composed titled Do It Now. I read it last night and thought I would post it here today.
If with pleasure you are viewing
any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, tell him now;
Don’t withhold your approbation
till the parson makes oration
And he lies with snowy lilies on his brow;
No matter how you shout it
he won’t really care about it;
He won’t know how many teardrops you have shed;
If you think some praise is due him
now’s the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.
More than fame and more than money
is the comment kind and sunny
And the hearty, warm approval of a friend.
For it gives to life a savor,
and it makes you stronger, braver,
And it gives you heart and spirit to the end;
If he earns your praise – bestow it,
if you like him let him know it,
Let the words of true encouragement be said;
Do not wait till life is over
and he’s underneath the clover,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.*
Having recently learned of the untimely death of one of my own childhood friends, I see more and more the importance of Mr. Braley’s admonition. Life is short; opportunities are fleeting. It behooves each of us to make the most of every single day.
As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” What is true for our works is no doubt true for our words.
In light of this, may we take full advantage of every opportunity we have to share our love for one another, taking special care to “encourage one another and build each other up” (I Thessalonians 5:11).