Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Don't Be a Bystander

I enjoy traveling and wish I could do more. New Mexico has not been included in my journeys, but last week work related responsibilities afforded me the privilege of being in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Walking around Old Town Albuquerque before and after meetings and eating at County Line BBQ at the base of the Sandia Mountains was wonderful. Old Town Santa Fe was interesting and the beautiful drive along the scenic high road to Taos was spectacular.

I could have retired to my hotel room after long hours of business sessions and workshops. But I would have missed learning about the history and culture of the region and its people and seeing the rugged scenery of New Mexico. Those elements provided a terrific balance to the hours spent in meetings where I learned a lot and enjoyed sharing with colleagues.

I wonder how many opportunities I have missed to learn and expand my horizons because I resisted new places and things. How many times have I missed the wonder of God's creation and moments of witnessing to God's greatness and goodness because of my reluctance to venture into unknown territory?

The Apostle Paul reminded the Christians at Ephesus that they had been liberated from darkness and were brought into the light because of Christ's presence in them. He instructs them to "Be very careful, then, how you live ..., making the most of every opportunity..." (Ephesians 5:15). Those words of wisdom are equally applicable to contemporary followers of Christ.

Mark Russell wrote the words to a Grammy Award winning song that Leann Womack recorded. The lyrics include the words "when you have a chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."

It seems to me that is what Paul counsels Christians to do. Don't be a wall flower, a bystander, a spectator. Be a willing participant in the full life that God provides through Jesus Christ. Enjoy it. Share the Good News with others.

In Meredith Wilson's play, Music Man, Professor Harold Hill tries to get Marian the librarian to go out with him. Repeatedly she refuses. One day he asks her to meet him at the foot bridge over the stream in the park but Marian says, "Not to day. Maybe tomorrow. The Professor replies, "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering."

The death of one of my friends and colleagues last week is a strong reminder that every day is precious and there is no promise of the next. I hope to make today count and live in such a manner "to make today worth remembering." My prayer for myself and everyone is, "Lord, teach us to use wisely all the time that we have" (Psalm 90:12 CEV).

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia, 10/24/11. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]