The Time That’s Left… Mr. Rogers and the Passage of Time.

Posted: December 13, 2019 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
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In 2004, I had a heart attack. If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that. I was 40 years old, and it was a mild one. Looking back, I realize it was a wake up call but at the time, I will confess, I got pretty fatalistic for a while. I started to think about dying a lot, and how I had used up most of my life and I probably didn’t have a lot of time left. It was about then that I was listening to a song by Mark Schultz called The Time That’s Left. I think at the time I was looking at the song all wrong, because it didn’t help. It does now, check it out.

Well I caught myself doing it again the other day. You see I went to see “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” the new movie that’s sort of about Mr. Rogers. I say sort of because the film is so much different than what I expected. I expected a biopic on the life of a man I truly admire. What I got instead was the tale of a cynical reporter trying to start over after a bad childhood, when he’s assigned to interview Mr. Rogers. Spoiler alert, it changes the reporter’s life. Tom Hanks was absolutely brilliant in portraying the man exactly as he was, a humble man trying to do some real good in the world.

Probably my favorite moment in the film is when Hanks just simply looked at me. I better explain. early in the film in explaining his approach to TV, Mr. Rogers explained his method. He tried to look through the camera into the eyes of a child. Later, when the reporter has a vulnerable moment and starts talking about his relationship with his absentee father, Rogers commented that his father was still part of who made the reporter who he was. He asked the reporter to sit in silence for a full minute and think of the people who made him who he was. When the reluctant reporter agrees, Hanks looked directly into the camera for most of the silent minute. It was as if he was looking right through the camera and into my eyes. I must admit at that moment I was part of the film, thinking of all the people who have blessed me and made me who I am, and I broke down right there in the theater. It was a beautiful moment in a film full of beautiful moments, but I have to admit, this film also took me to thinking of theme that’s left.

That heart attack was nearly 16 years ago, I am 56 now. As I watched Tom Hanks portray this hero of so many of our childhoods, I started to think about what he actually did. He addressed some of life’s toughest issues with a simple show, simple puppets as a simple man who simply loved. I started to wish I could do that too, well in my own way in my own context, and that’s when the melancholy came knocking on the door. I’m inching toward retirement. I started wishing I had seen this sooner. I wish I had started sooner. There’s not a lot of time left. Have you been there? That’s when it hit me. I am a servant of the most high God. He knows exactly how much time I have left and I have no idea. The things He is calling me to He will do through me. So no more fretting over a lack of time. Instead start things faithfully and work faithfully and finish all you can faithfully trusting the One who promised to finish everything He starts in you in the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Start the book. Paint the painting. Sculpt the sculpture. Write the screenplay, or the play or the song. Plant the church. Start the ministry, or the non profit, or whatever God leads you to do. God will see to it that you have what you need and anything you can’t finish, He will.

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