Monday, March 2, 2009

You better watch out! (Mark 13)

"A young man can never imagine that twenty pounds or twenty years could be so easily spent," said Benjamin Franklin. Today's food for thought, as the title indicates, comes from the Olivet Discourse, again.
Mar 13:33 Dikkat edin, uyanık kalın, dua edin. Çünkü o anın ne zaman geleceğini bilemezsiniz.
Mar 13:34 Bu, yolculuğa çıkan bir adamın durumuna benzer. Evinden ayrılırken kölelerine yetki ve görev verir, kapıdaki nöbetçiye de uyanık kalmasını buyurur.
Mar 13:35 Siz de uyanık kalın. Çünkü ev sahibi ne zaman gelecek, akşam mı, gece yarısı mı, horoz öttüğünde mi, sabaha doğru mu, bilemezsiniz.
Mar 13:36 Ansızın gelip sizi uykuda bulmasın!
Mar 13:37 Size söylediklerimi herkese söylüyorum; uyanık kalın!"
Be careful / attentive, stay awake, pray. Because you can not know when the moment will come.

In context, Jesus warned His disciples about the doom of Jerusalem. Imagine standing on a hilltop, watching a car racing a train to a railroad crossing -- and you can see that the race is going to end in a tie. Since life continued pretty much as usual for the next 40 years, though, the urgency of the warning diminished. Only those who were faithful enough to remember our Lord's words were able to escape with their lives.

In a broader sense, life is full of surprises. "He who plans to repent at the 11th hour, dies at 10:59." This can create hidden mines for the unwary. It's all too easy to "go on autopilot," even when wisdom requires us to remain alert, and purposeful, with every moment of every day. In the last few months, two planes went down in the state of New York. One landed in the Hudson River, with no lives lost. The other bored into the ground near Buffalo, with no survivors. The difference? The doomed plane was on autopilot until the last minute. The computer on board compensated for the gradual buildup of ice on the wings, until it could not cope any more -- then released the entire mess to human control.

And so many wonderful opportunities come across our path at unexpected moments. My prayer for myself, and for all those who read these lines of wit, is that we might be ready to profit from the doors that open for us.

The last word in this chapter, in Greek, is the imperative verb γρηγορεῖτε -- be alert. It's the source of a popular Christian name, Gregory. As I've often told my firstborn, "Son, be alert. The world needs more lerts."

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