A Christian's Habits: Chapter Nine
The Habit of Doing Things Now
“The kind of life we are living is producing the sort we shall live forever. We may well believe that death brings a mighty change, but it is a change of sphere and of condition, not of character. ”
This book isn’t the most influential book in my spiritual journey. Robert E. Speer was an American as I am, a Presbyterian as I am, and lived in the late modern period of history as I do. Yet it is a Frenchman, a Catholic priest working with nuns, in the early modern period (the 17th century), who wrote a book that has been more influential in my American, Presbyterian, 21st-century life. This may seem unusual but it’s to be expected when you seek to follow Jesus. He leads us on a journey across space and time to arrive at our destination.
This may seem like a far out idea. But it’s focused on one simple truth. There is one thing that binds all humans together whether living in the time of Father De Caussade, in the context of Rev. Robert E. Speer, or in the same general situation of Rev. Randy Lovejoy; the only time we are alive is now and the journey with Jesus is neither more nor less about taking the next step; that is, we look at where we are today, we do what is in front of us, and we trust that God is leading us, step by step and moment by moment to the place we need to go. That’s the theme of the De Caussade’s book “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.” That’s the lesson of this particular chapter of Speer’s book. Though separated by space and time they share the wisdom of Garth when he urged Wayne to “live in the now!”1 This, in my mind, is the most important and most practical habit of a life that makesgoodhappen.
So, without further ado, chapter nine of Robert Speer’s “A Christian’s Habits,” The Habit of Doing Things Now.
I. Preparing for Eternity
How can you practice today what you will be doing forever?
In his book entitled “The Happy Life,” ex-President Eliot of Harvard quotes the question of Emerson, asking what use immortality would be to a man who does not know how to live half an hour. Immortality, in the popular view, is just an endless number of half hours tied together, one after the other. What would a man do with a million of them who did not know what to do with one? And of what use to anyone will be a great, long-dreamed-of opportunity for heroism or service, unless preparation has been made for it by such heroism and service in the things that went before? All of these questions only bring out clearly the true principle of life; namely, that living now is the only living, that we ought to use rightly each moment and fill it full of true work and duty-doing.