On Borrowed Time
By: Jim O'Brien
An intriguing and delightful play called "On Borrowed Time" was written in 1939. It's the story of a grandfather who has a special relationship with his orphaned grandson. The grandfather is dedicated to protecting Pud, the boy. No one else has sufficient concern for Pud's welfare.
"Gramps" becomes afflicted with a terminal illness and death is imminent. Out of concern for Pud, Gramps is able to trap the devil in a magical apple tree. Death is literally held at bay, unable to afflict the grandfather, but also banned from the rest of the world. Gramps wants to buy time to make adequate provisions for Pud, whom he loves.
At first, news reports are glowingly positive. No one is dying. The world, absent death, is a better place. And then reality sets in. Diseased people are lingering in pain, unable to find release from suffering. Accidents leave people maimed for life, hanging on the verge of death with no escape. Hospitals are overflowing with terminal patients, unable to care for those who could recover.
Eventually, people plead with the grandfather to allow death out of the tree so the world can continue.
The world may be witnessing a strange parallel today with the Coronavirus pandemic. People want to stop death. Like Gramps, we want to trap death in a magical tree. It's a worthy goal. It's well-intentioned. But, in so doing we've stopped living.
How long can the world go on without an economy? How long can the government pay people not to work? We're living on borrowed time.
When Christ was engaged with the task of teaching the world, a man came to him, convicted by his message-he wanted to be a disciple. He promised to follow Jesus wherever he went but he had to first go and bury his father. What person wouldn't stop his normal life for the funeral of his own father? It's an essential task!
Jesus' response is shocking. "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Luke 9:60). On the surface, it seems like a cruel response. Jesus continued, "you go and preach the kingdom of God."
The moral is that there is more to life than running from death.
After all, Jesus could have lived more than thirty-three short years, but his mission was more important than his physical life! American soldiers could have avoided death, but freedom was more important than life. First century Christians were threatened with death for teaching the truth, but they held firm and passed the gospel on to us.
We are unworthy recipients of freedom, forgiveness, and truth. All because people chose to continue living in spite of the threat of death.
It is time for Americans, and especially Christians, to reassess priorities. Christianity is not an ancillary value. Freedom is not a secondary characteristic for Americans.
America is on borrowed time. We have forgotten who we are and why we exist. Christians have become shallow because we have lacked the will to defend our beliefs. When fear of death overshadows the love of life, true values are extinguished.
Until next time,
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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