I announce, with sadness, that the Boston Bruins tied its series against my beloved Montreal Canadiens last night – in overtime. Overtime always brings tense moments in hockey, and especially in the post-season. It’s stressful and exciting, but it’s a game – in a sense, not quite real. What takes place in the good ol’ hockey game is very real for those on the ice and the bench, but it really doesn’t parallel life.
There is a sense in which life is a game, but it’s definitely not a game when it comes to the concept of overtime. We simply don’t get overtime in life.
True, some people will argue that after a tragic event in life – even one that may bring us near death – we feel as though we’ve been granted overtime, another of the proverbial nine lives of a cat. But the reality is that we are “playing in regulation” from the time we are born until the time we die.
In other words, we don’t have extra time beyond what we are afforded, by God’s grace, in this life. In playoff hockey, the game can’t end until a tie has been broken, and if that requires overtime, they play until a goal is scored. But in real life, everything has to happen in regulation.
Of course, many people understand this to mean that it’s important to cram in as much fun into life as possible, leading them to a hedonistic lifestyle. I won’t argue that having lots of fun in life is valuable, and even important for a complete and fulfilling life. But what matters more, I think, is that living life in “regulation time” involves investing in eternity – living beyond the here-and-now.
Billy Graham, in his crusades years ago, used to talk about the immediate need to give our lives to Christ, because if we say we’ll wait until we’re on our death bed, we could be hit by a bus when leaving the arena! There was a bit of humour in that, but also a great truth: we never know when we are going to die. It could happen at any time, without warning. It’s of absolute importance that we invest in eternity while we are living, enjoying a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ while we are able.
The great benefit of a relationship with God while we live is that we get to enjoy (and share!) the blessings of life in Christ; it’s not just about getting a ticket to heaven when we die. There won’t be an overtime period; regulation time is all we’ve got. Have you made an eternal investment? Are you walking with Jesus as his disciple?
‘For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “righttime” is now. Today is the day of salvation‘ (2 Corinthians 6.2, NLT).