My worst nightmare


A guest post by Richard Nyhof.

Day by day, minute by minute I make choices. Some of eternal moment and some inconsequential, I suspect. But here’s the question – which is which? Not as easy to tell as I first suspected. Let me explain.

Most of the choices I make are to do with what I’ll do with the time at hand. Will I get that assignment started or will I play one more game? Will I mow the lawn or have a cup of tea. Sometimes they are choices around temptation – but then aren’t those two previous examples just that? Nothing wrong with games, or cups of tea for that matter! Sometimes, however they stop me doing what I really ought to be doing – the thing that my conscience directs me toward. And if I believe that the Holy Spirit indwells me and speaks through my conscience then I have to say “the thing that Jesus directs me toward”. So, you see, I find myself again and again saying to Jesus “just hang on while I do this other thing…”

Recently I had an opportunity to deeply ponder (well more deeply than previously!) the interaction between the rich young ruler and Jesus – the account is in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22 and Luke 18:18-23. The man asks the ultimate question “What must I do to gain eternal life?” After some conversation Jesus gives him the answer, “Give up your wealth and follow me”. A clear choice! On the one hand Jesus and eternal life, on the other wealth and eventual death. The young man was unable to choose Jesus. The place he had come to in life, the previous choices made, meant he was unable to give up the wealth. And… he went away sad. No wonder he was sad, he was choosing death – and he knew it. But he had no capacity to choose otherwise.

So here’s my nightmare. I’ve died (that’s not the bad part!) and get to face up to Jesus. As he is about to welcome me I’m given the opportunity of one last game of Bejeweled. I know full well the choice is ultimate, but because of all the times I’ve made the choice in life I have no capacity to choose differently in judgement. I choose the game, and am condemned to an eternity of shuffling pixels around an increasingly meaningless screen while the Lord of Life loses all significance in my existence.