April 10, 2009

today you will be with me in paradise

This is a reflection I wrote for my Passion of Christ in Literature and Art class this semester:

Today you will be with me in paradise? Are you kidding? I don’t have time for paradise. I have things to do – I have reading; I have homework; I have plans to make and people to call. It just isn’t a good time for paradise right now. How about tomorrow? That looks better for me. Or even this weekend? “This weekend you will be with me in paradise.” So I’ll pencil in paradise for this weekend – say a late breakfast? I’ll be more prepared this weekend… I’ll be ready for Jesus in a few days.

In a world driven by instant gratification and the need for more hours each day, we are pushed and pulled between the now and the I’ll get to it next week and the ask someone else. But at this moment, we’re being told that today, we will be with Jesus in paradise. Today.

But what about tomorrow? I’m all ready for the endless tomorrows; today, I’m a little less certain. I’ve been making plans for after graduation – applying for jobs, finding places to live, imagining a future of summer bike rides, fall leaf raking, winter sledding, and spring gardening for seasons to come. I’ve thought so much about what the future holds that I’m not sure what today holds. Maybe today is that future I’ve been planning for. Maybe there won’t be endless tomorrows.

The man hanging next to Jesus didn’t have a tomorrow. He only had today. Condemned to die, the criminal asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Even dying on the cross, his mortal coil shuffling like hell, the man looks to the future and starts making plans. Jesus says no, seriously, trust me. Today. Today you will be with me in paradise. Not tomorrow. Not next week. No need to call ahead or spend time worrying about it. Now. We’ll be there today.

Woah. Hold up. Today? Like I said earlier, today doesn’t work for me. I have things to do. I thought we were going to meet this weekend. But Jesus is calling. Like fishers by the side of the lake, Jesus is calling and we’re going NOW. Ready or not, here Christ comes.

We have this amazing gift of life, a life filled with joys and struggles and good days and bad. But it’s ours and it’s not going to last forever, maybe not even to tomorrow. God gave us this gift and we’re wasting it. From dust we were formed and to dust we will return. We’re reminded of that at least one day a year, when we walk with the mark of our mortality for all to see, when God’s claim on us is made visible. The rest of the time? We’re untouchable. When we live with immortality in our blood, the truly important things get put aside for tomorrow or next week. That can wait. I’ll get to it later. I’ll call her next week. Oh, we can catch up another time. I have more time to volunteer next month. You know, next year I’ll really start to focus on social justice issues.

We only have so many days before Christ comes to us and says “It’s time. Today’s the day. Today you will be with me in paradise.” So start acting like it.

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