Friday, March 16, 2012

The Quick & the Dead

There's a click before the strike. Listen to the clock-The Quick and the Dead (1995)
My tires hadn't warmed up yet and were still flat on one side from sitting for 10 hours on the frozen blacktop. The year was 1998 and I was working as a loan originator... also known as a broker. I worked for commission and I hadn't closed a loan for months. The sun had already fallen and the depressing grey skies were finally giving way to a darker and deeper grey. Life had not turned out as I had planned, and I headed home to another cold dinner with news to my wife that again, I was unable to close a deal.

I decided that I would try yelling at the top of my lungs, "yeah!" Maybe if I believed enough and shouted... the walls that held me back would fall down? Could this be a Jericho moment? And so I did. Repeatedly. I think I even tried it seven times (nod to Joshua). I scared the guy sitting in the lane next to me. But no fire fell from the sky (nod to Elijah). I didn't suddenly have an epiphany. I just had a sore throat.

And yet... even since that time, I have found myself searching for a reason to to simply shout out loud... to cheer for the sheer overwhelming feeling of rightness in my soul. I believed that if I could only find my place in life, then I would find peace.

"There's a click before the strike. Listen to the clock."

I was listening for the wrong sounds. I was convinced that the ringing of the clock was my salvation... and it was the still, quiet click preceding the toll of the bell that I needed to hear.

I think of Elijah, straining to hear God's voice in the tornado, and the earthquake, and the fire... and hearing nothing until it had passed and a still, small voice shattered the silence. It is so easy to miss the truth when it stares us in the face.

But the truth is... if we don't hear the click before the strike... if we aren't listening to that still, small voice, then we have already chosen our allegiance among The Quick and the Dead. 

1 Peter 4:5
Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

"In the old English, quick comes from a origin of obscure usage. Quicken meant, alive... as a baby could be quickened in a a mother's womb (meaning, to be made alive). And so, the phrase literally is read, the living and the dead." -Wikipedia

The difference between the quick and the dead is that mere near-silent click of the clock. When that hand moves to noon... you better be ready. It is whether or not we are attuned to that still, small voice. Let me tell you what that "click" sounds like.

It is that moment that you watch your parents reach down and for the first time, pick up your newly adopted daughter. It is that flash in your mind when you realize that your baby has a special head nod, just for you. I am convinced that eternity reaches out to us in these brief moments, and says to us... here I am, can you see me?

Eternity can hold out and wait for us in the moment between the tick and the boom. Our action determines the outcome. Will we be the quick or the dead? I have found a reason to shout out loud, now with sincerity. God is not limited by the pull of time, and He has chosen to lead us to this place.  The steps we have taken along the way each seem to have been necessary to bring us here.

It reminds me of another movie, City Slickers. There was an old cowboy named Curley, and he was known for saying that the secret of life comes down to just "one thing." Well, Curley...I believe I have found it:

Reconciliation of how we live with what we believe.  If I am there when the clock strikes, then I will be secure with the outcome of the judgment.

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