The Shelf Life

shelf life

I don’t know how the food is at your house, but my refrigerator and cabinets seem to go from spanking new to spoiled overnight. I plan my next meal around a delectable piece of fruit only to discover that sometime between breakfast and dinner it has turned brown and shriveled up and is now ready for the nectarine nursing home. A half eaten loaf of bread is dry and stale, leftover casseroles are now penicillin want-a-be’s and I see dollar signs sitting where my culinary dreams once were. It reminds me of the shelf life of the Christian. Travel around much and in every church you see Christians from one extreme to the other regardless of how long they’ve been a member. Just this past weekend I met a saint of God who was as fresh off the vine as a Florida peach, and she had served God for decades. She was exciting and it was refreshing to witness God working in her life. So when I hear a child of God say “I’ve done my time,” as if serving God was a sentence and they’d now been released from the penitentiary pew I want to light a fire under them. Literally.

I don’t believe there is an acceptable age to be a shelf sitter. Age does not define your ministry, God defines it and transforms it as He alone sees fit. Why is it that people put themselves on a shelf and just sit waiting for God to clean out the pantry? I’ve seen shelf sitters from the ages of nine to ninety satisfied with the status quo and unconcerned about the state if the church, and then (as was the case this past weekend) I’ve seen those who are serving till the trumpet blows!

Life lessons are invaluable! Why would you dare to think that God can no longer use you when you reach the age of retirement? Or that younger people don’t have the desire to be in your presence. It’s then that you have walked the miles and have the experience to guide others safely through and your wisdom it far greater than what they’ll receive from the world.

For those who are “too busy making a living” that you have no time to serve, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to live! I’ve seriously watched you rush into a service and collapse in your seat, roll your eyes because the service has taken on its own life, being guided by the Holy Spirit, rather than dictated by a bulletin, and lift your wrist at precisely twelve noon only to discover the Pastor hasn’t even gotten to the conclusion. You pray the alter call does not last too long and then rush out the door so you’ll perhaps get an early jump on the work week. And then as your chest palpitates you pray to God it’s not a heart attack; when in reality it was probably the Holy Spirit galloping to keep up with you. You pray for peace, but never slow down to allow its presence to enter into your life.

And one of Satan’s greatest lies to the youth, “Do it later, you have so much time ahead.” Having lost a brother to an automobile accident at nineteen, I’m fully well aware that we’re not promised another second of time.

Christ’s parable rings true across our land from Luke 12…

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

A few things I’ve discovered about things sitting on the shelf too long. It rots and is good for nothing, it grows stale and tough as shoe leather, or it gets bugs in it. The same is true in Christianity. A Christian out of service sours, their tender spirit hardens and they allow unhealthy things to enter their life.

Don’t waste a minute of this precious life God has given us! Serve Him well friends.

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