It’s Never Once and For All

Like many of you, I’ve used this time of COVID quarantine to do some work around my house. That wasn’t the plan when the quarantine started. When we were told to work from home, I was going to write a novel and begin an intense reading program in theology, New Testament studies and other brilliant things.

Well, that didn’t happen, but I did get tired of looking at things that needed to be done around the house. So, my wife and I started the process of doing some things that needed to be done around the house. We cleaned windows, touched up some painting, carried things to recycling and a lot of other stuff to Goodwill. In fact, we took loads and loads of stuff to Goodwill.

But here is what I noticed. I have done all of this before. I’ve painted the same walls. I’ve cleaned out the same attic before. How did all of this new junk get up in the attic? I carried it up there. In a moment when I had to make a decision, I chose to stuff it in the attic rather than deal with the item in a more effective manner.

I want to get this house stuff done, and I want it done once and for all.

In fact, I want everything in my life fixed, and I want it done right and done once and for all.

“Once and for all…” How many times do we say this during our daily conversations? We want to deal with COVID-19 and the pandemic “once and for all”.

We want to settle our nation’s racial tensions “once and for all.”
We want our nation to deal with poverty, education, fix healthcare, and we want them all fixed “once and for all”.
We want our marriages fixed “once and for all”.
We want our children to set the course for their lives, and then, we want them on automatic pilot…once and for all.

But we both know, in our world, nothing stays fixed for long. Things wear out. Other things break. Some things go out of style, and other things, well, they never really worked in the first place. Some things get exposed to weather, and other things work loose from the give and take of daily life.

And it’s just not our stuff that needs maintenance and upkeep. Everything about us needs upkeep. Our bodies, our minds, our relationships, even our faith – everything will wind down into disfunction if we do not pay attention to them.

We get married and things are good. We think we can focus our attention on something else, like our career or the children, because everything at home is good. As soon as we do that, our marriages begin to fray at the edges.

Ignore the needs of our bodies, and suddenly, we’re overweight, sluggish and lethargic. Start spending too much time on social media and neglect our serious studies and reading and before we know it, our brains turn to mush.

Like COVID-19, we just want this thing over with. We want a vaccine we can take and be done with this pandemic once and for all.

Yet, more and more, we’re beginning to understand that we’re going to have to live with COVID-19. Sure, a vaccine may take the lethal edge off of pandemic, but COVID-19 isn’t going away. We’re going to have to find a way to live with it.

And how will we do that? The same way we live with everything else – intentionally. We’ll wash our hands more often. We’ll fist bump instead of shaking hands, and we may even get used to wearing a mask. We’ll make plans, and then, we’ll follow through.

It’s the same way in our marriage. We’re intentional. We plan date nights and short vacations. We carve out a little time every day to make sure we’re connected and still on track with each other.

We make plans to keep connected with our children and our friends. We set aside a little time to work out and keep our brains challenged through continual learning.

And we pray. We read our Bible, even those passages we think we already know, because there’s always a new nugget in the sifting. We examine our lives carefully to make sure we’re staying aligned to Christ’s purposes and teachings.

But didn’t Jesus save us once and for all? Yes, but we leak. Whatever filling of Christ’s Spirit we had yesterday evaporates and is used up on the wilderness trails of our lives. Every day requires a fresh encounter, a new infilling of the Spirit. We get distracting with the cares of the day and our faith gets pulled and weathered. Our souls need constant maintenance.

I know. Sometimes, we just wish it was over with and we could finally deal with all of this. That time will come soon enough. The Lord has promised this.

But until then, we’ll stay intentional about checking on things. We’ll paint what needs to be painted. Tighten what needs to be tightened and throw away what no longer works. Every day, we’ll do a little maintenance in some area of our lives. Every day, we’ll check our souls to see how much we’ve leaked since yesterday.

Today, once again, we’ll remember Jesus promised nothing is done once and for all until He returns.