December 2016 /January 2017 - Vol. 89

man walking in sunlit forest
Making the Most of the Present Time
by Carlos Mantica

Any ordinary day you just wake up feeling exhausted. It must be the flu, you think, and so you stay in bed in order to get well sooner. But one whole week goes by and the sickness does not go. You call the doctor, and when he finishes examining you, you can notice heís very worried. He examines you once again, sends samples to the lab, and finally calls a doctorsí meeting. He finally tells you the truth: you have a very strange disease that has no cure. Very little is known about it. No one even knows what the symptoms will be in the future, but one thing is certain: it is fatal. You have just a few weeks of life left.

Those of us who know the Master and trust in him have no fear of the final examination. We do not despair, but our life is not the same any more. We only have a few weeks left. How are we going to use them? Things that even yesterday seemed important to us now seem trivial--long-term investments, the book I was planning to write, the trip to Europe, the earthquake insurance, the cottage by the beach... We now ask ourselves: Whom do I need to forgive? Who are those who do not yet know how much I love them? Who do I need to ask forgiveness from?    

I soon experience a new desire to pray. Itís not that I want to earn heaven with prayers, because the price of heaven has already been paid for me. I just want to talk. I have many things to ask the Lord, many things to tell him. Things I had not thought about before, such as, Lord, what color are your eyes? Where will you be at the moment of my leap into the vacuum? Do Erwin and the others already know Iím coming? Do you think they will lend me Georgeís air-conditioned, outboard-motor cloud for my heavenly tour? What would you like me to do today? Give my wife a lot of strength!

How different everything looks now... What a fortune to have a community and a family such as I have! How ridiculous the five-year plans of the new government, the latest Toyota model and the Christmas lottery ticket! My life is now all different... itís the same, but at the same time itís completely different from what it was before. Itís as if somebody had given me a new pair of eyes to see things. Nothing is new, but everything is much clearer.

Suddenly, something happens that no one was expecting. When you had already resigned to your fate, a specialist suddenly comes around who tells you that a drug now exists (although itís still being tested) that will not cure you, but that will extend your life for some time. You can carry on a normal life, without pains, work as you did before, do things as always. But... when death comes, it will come unexpectedly.

You take the drug and, in fact, all pain disappears. You rise from your bed and begin to lead a normal life. Everything is the same, except you now know that death will come without notice and is not too far away.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is no tale. It is the diagnosis for all that will read this. We are all suffering from an innate disease on account of which we are condemned to die sooner or later. And the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Itís as that poster of the hippies used to say, ďToday is the first day of the rest of your life.Ē

The question is, how are we going to live that rest of our lives? The way we lived before the doctor told us the truth, or the way we began to live when the Lord gave us new eyes to see things from the perspective of a near death and an eternal life?

Only the symptoms have disappeared. We continue to be condemned to death. The day of graduation is near. We are not worried about the final examination; even now we are longing for that face-to-face encounter with the Master, and we are imagining the tremendous party after the graduation ceremony, with the presence of all the alumni. But... we have to make the most of the present time, for the day of the Lord is now closer.

> See related articles by Carlos Mantica

This article is adapted from the book, From Egghead to Birdhood (hatch or rot as a Christian), (c) copyright 2001 Carlos Mantica. Used with permission.

Carlos Mantica is a founder of The City of God community (La Cuidad de Dios) in Managua, Nicaragua, and a founding leader of the Sword of the Spirit. He served as president of the Sword of the Spirit between 1991 and 1995.

illustration (top) by (c) Smileus at
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