Recently I was visiting in the home of an older guy who is in our hospice program. He’s single, has never been married, and has outlived all of his friends. You might think he would be depressed – but that hardly describes him. No, he’s having a good time keeping himself busy. He collects state quarters (did you know there is one for the Virgin Islands?). He buys pop every time it goes on sale – though I doubt he has any hope of drinking it all in this lifetime (unless he lives to be 116). And he cans vegetables. Technically, he used to can vegetables.
On my last visit he showed me the gun case in his dining room that he had transformed into storage shelves for his canning projects. And front and center were some lima beans. Those lima beans are his pride and joy. He took the jar off the shelf and showed me with great aplomb that he had canned those beans back in 1976. Yes, you read that right – 1976. Every jar in his cabinet was labeled and dated, including his lima beans.
Now, I’m not sure, but I don’t think lima beans get better with age. And I wasn’t about to find out. In my mind, the shelf life of those lima beans had expired long ago.
But what about the shelf life of our faith? If we’re not careful we find ourselves still living on the experiences of the past, rather than on the promises of today. The highlights can go back many years, and we can live off the memories of those moments. But in the meantime our day-to-day faith may be getting stale.
God’s mercies are new every morning. I believe there’s a reason for that. He doesn’t want us to live out a faith that is out-of-date and expired. He wants it to be new and exciting and fresh every day. That’s what He offers.
If I were to give some advice to my friend, I would tell him to let go of his lima beans, and to go shopping for something a little more recent – maybe with a “best used by” date on it. ( I might also suggest that he try something a little more tasty – like Fritos or Oreos.)
And if I were to give advice to the rest of us, I’d say that it’s time to check the shelf life of our faith. Are we living on the past? Or are we experiencing the thrill of God at work in our lives each and every day.
Lima beans circa 1976 don’t cut it. Neither does does faith circa 1976 or 1989 or 1998 or 2009.
So keep your faith fresh. And leave the lima beans for my friend and me to marvel at.