The other day I drove past a sad scene. A restaurant that had once been crowded with hungry guests and lively with animated conversation had shut down. Weeds had found their way through sidewalk cracks and around the edges of the building, some reaching above window sills. The neglect was evident.
My guess is the restaurant hadn’t been closed for too long. Abandoned buildings fall into quick disrepair and are a bulky example of “use it or lose it.”
That’s true for human bodies, too. Consider a person who breaks an arm. When the cast is removed after 6 weeks, muscles seem non-existent and the limb looks shrunken, abnormal, non-functional. Without using it, we lose it.
And what about the languages we learn in high school and college? At one point we know 8000 vocabulary words and can speak in simple sentences. Then we abandon the language lab and the vocab cards, and before long, the language slips away, too.
What about people? I think of the strong bonds linking them together and how they quickly become fragile if neglected. Without loving contact between husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend, the attachment diminishes and gradually the relationship fizzles.
Is this true in the spiritual realm, too? God promised never to leave us, but what if we leave him? Is it possible to lose this critical relationship by not using it? I’m not referring to the debate about whether or not we can lose our salvation but about the ongoing connection we’ve been invited to have with the Lord after he saves our souls. Do we keep it fresh and current? Are we up to date with him?
And the more important question is, if we’re not caring for that relationship, how difficult does it become to regain it? Is it as hard as rebuilding biceps? Or learning vocabulary? Or repairing a marriage?
What if it’s more difficult still? Good questions for us might be, “If Christ returned today, would I be happy with the way our relationship stands? Am I ready for him? Or can I improve my end of things? Without using what he’s given me, am I losing out on what could be a fabulous union?”
A neglected building can be sold, painted, cleaned and landscaped. A new restaurant can move in. Patrons can come. It’s a big job, but each loss can be recouped.
But if Jesus comes tomorrow, we’ll never have another chance to regain what we lost during our time on earth.
“You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)