After a holiday weekend today we dive back into work. At 65 I want – I need – every hour to count. As the old missions song urges, Give every flying minute something to keep in store; Work, for the night is coming when man works no more.
As of today opportunities abound. But enemies of the gospel are quite literally hell-bent on bringing our opportunities to a quick end. That’s why we must “give every flying minute something to keep in store.”
This is our bugle summons this morning and every morning: “You know the time, that the hour has come for you to awake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12, ESV).
I’m grateful that my life is nourished by a pretty large storehouse of hymns. Further, there is excellent, recently composed worship music to embrace. And there are grand hymns yet to discover. I fell on one such great, old hymn yesterday. It’s a perfect way to begin this week. I won’t quote all 11 verses. Although this hymn itself is obscure and seldom sung, almost everyone with any church background has sung the final verse.
Pulling no punches, the composer calls us to “shake off dull sloth.” Today we try to be user-friendly, soften the Spirit’s conviction and not injure anyone’s feelings. So we’ve invented a more sanitized word, procrastination. It’s our way of saying, “We haven’t really been lazy. We’ve just put some things off until later.” But what we call procrastination the old divines called sloth. By whichever name it remains one of the “seven deadly sins” because it robs us of life itself. Therefore –
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.
By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love and cheerful praise.
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew,
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
– Thomas Ken