Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 10)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

This is our final day to consider the poem. Let's look at the last four lines:

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Why does he call it the unforgiving minute? 
Sometimes what you're doing is hard. Minutes seem like hours, and you'd like to throw in the towel. Press on despite hardship. Keep going even though there are things you'd rather be doing. Robert Frost alluded to this when he wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." 
"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep."

Promises, commitments, obligations need to be kept regardless of our mood or preferences. We can "sleep" later, but now the clock is ticking and we must be busy with the task at hand.

Jesus spoke to this often. "I must be about my Father's business," and "I always do what pleases him [God]." Don't you suppose Jesus was thinking about His Father's business when He hung on the cross?  Don't you think He was grateful when the work was done, when He uttered the words, "It is finished." All those unforgiving minutes (and hours) were over and He was free to give up His spirit.

If you can fill your unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run . . . . if you can give it your best shot . . . if you can strive for excellence in your chosen (or assigned) task when you'd rather be doing something--anything--else, then you are mature . . . and, according to Kipling, you'll be a Man, my son!

And keep one thing more in mind, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving"
(Colossians 3:23-24).

1 comment: