Between Two Thieves
The ones who steal the most valuable commodity any of us possess.
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. And so are we. On the one side hangs the thief called Yesterday. On the other is his partner in crime, Tomorrow. Both steal life’s most precious possessions: our time and hearts.
Yesterday dredges up memories of past failures. He reminds us of all we could have done if only we had been wiser, or not held back by people and circumstances. This thief specializes in picking at the scabs of festering wounds. Once again, we are haunted by old hurts, shattered dreams, and the ghosts of people who have betrayed us. He usually comes to us in the dark of night, like a midnight grave robber, to dig up old skeletons we thought were buried forever. In the process, he robs us of our sleep and saps our strength. Yesterday steals our Todays by debilitating us with regret and bitterness over things that can never be changed. Or, he fills us with nostalgia for “the good old days” so that we resent today’s changes and refuse to take part in fresh opportunities to forge a better future.
Tomorrow is Yesterday’s henchman. They are like tag team wrestlers who take turns throwing us to the canvas and pummeling us while we are down. Tomorrow reminds us of everything that can go wrong in the future. Like all evil, he especially loves the dark—especially the place in our mind where negative thoughts grow like toxic fungi. Then he spreads the seeds of pessimism until they grow into a jungle that chokes our heart and entangles our mind. Yesterday’s partner in crime also does his best work in the night hours, whispering sweet nothings: “Watch out, the coronavirus is coming to your house too.” Or, “The economy will never come back, and neither will your job, or 401(k).” Or, “Your lost children and wandering grandchildren will never return from the Far Country.” Or “That ache in your bones is probably cancer.” His list of potential catastrophes is endless. His endgame is to paralyze you so that you fail to grab hold of today’s opportunities.
Today is the only sure time you have left on this earth. And, perhaps, not even all of this day. This hour may be all that is available. Only God knows the time you have left. Each moment is a precious gift to be used for His glory, your growth, and the good you can do for others. Each person’s day has the same 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds. Bill Gates may possess far more wealth, but he has no more time than you do in a single day. No excuse is a bigger lie than, “I didn’t have enough time.” Yes, you don’t have enough time to do everything you might wish, or what others expect of you. But, you have enough time to do what is necessary.
How then, do you decide how to invest this most precious of all commodities? Why don’t you start by looking at the One who hangs between two thieves—Jesus Christ? Both thieves mocked him at first—the same way Yesterday and Tomorrow taunt us. Yet, Jesus didn’t allow either to keep him from his appointed task that Friday afternoon. He glorified his Father and redeemed his lost sons and daughters—including one of those thieves. Our Lord was able to say, “It is finished!” Not everything was finished. Jesus left behind millions of crippled, blind, poverty-stricken, and lost people for his followers to reach with his healing Gospel. But he finished the one thing he was sent to do on that cross.
So, what will you do with the time you have left? Start by shutting your ears to the negative whisperings of Yesterday and Tomorrow. Focus on Jesus, and what he would have you do today. I suspect it will be exactly what he did each day during his earthly life: to obey the will of your heavenly Father, written in his Holy Bible; and to “seek and save those who are lost” even as Jesus did. Why not start with your children and grandchildren? Surely those who are most precious to you are worthy of those two treasures that are most precious: your heart and your time.
Dr. Bob Petterson