As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9.4)
I am 85 now and I can still work – if you can call what I do, ‘work’. I have enough wit and finger-agility to keep scribbling, and enough cheek to think what I offer will not altogether waste the time of readers.
I am glad and grateful to be alive. That ‘alive’ is a compendium of blessings, which I hope this blog will celebrate and share.
But the night is coming – for me. I do not know when, but it must be soon, relative to the years I have already been given. The darkness may overtake me, perhaps in the mind before the body, and then I will not be able to work. While it is ‘today’, I read Psalm 90 and count my days in the hope of applying my heart to wisdom. I try not to count them as a miser gloating and desperately holding on to them, but with a thankful delight in transitory goodness, in the flower of the field, which today is more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory, and tomorrow goes on the compost heap, not as rubbish but as a memory in fruitful mutation.
While it is yet day, let me work, even if I am only an old man mulling over the past and dreaming dreams, while all around the young prophesy, as the Spirit of the Lord is being poured out ‘on all flesh’ (Joel 2.28-32, Acts 2,16-21).
There is a more than personal driver behind my sense that the night is coming, and we must work while it is yet day. I see the night coming upon the human earth, with a darkness that is already destroying many other species. I think of my children and grandchildren who may well have to live through more ‘blood and fire and smoky mist’ than there is already (Acts 2.19). Human beings individually, and in small and large communities, already find it hard enough to navigate life. Will it get too hard? Will there be sufficient agreement on how to live together with the earth in peace? Will there be the urgent will to do what is necessary?
Without doubt, there is a Night lurking, looming up upon us. Unlike the earthly night, with its diurnal routine, the coming of night to the human earth has no certain timetable. We can hasten its coming, we may do something to delay it.
What is being done to the earth, and what the earth is doing in return, is all happening in the day, in the light of our knowing. It is no secret. The earth is speaking with pressing authority and growing impatience. It questions our self-interestedness, individual and corporate, our worry about what we shall eat, and how tall we stand and how long we live (Matthew 6.25-34) – all at one level, natural proper concerns for creatures who must live upon and with the earth. And now the earth is going further, questioning our openness to truth and our competence in solving problems. This is not to say that no effort is being made, for a lot is being done. But are we not harried by anxious questions about whether we are doing necessary useful things quickly and efficiently enough?
‘Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore’. While it is yet day, let us work.
The title of this personal website is a cut from the words of Jesus, as given to us in John 9.4. There we read, ‘As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me’. I hope to say something about this later. What does it mean to me now, while it is still day for me, to set about doing the works of the Father in heaven who sent Jesus? But this is enough for this moment.