Rev Arthur Clarke: You must makes choices, it’s make your mind up time

Towards the end of his life when he was living in Western Samoa, 19th century Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson received a letter from a missionary who wished to interview him.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 7:31 am
Arthur Clarke with his brother Moderator David Clarke at the Presbyterian General Assembly at Church House. Picture: Diane Magill

The letter read: “I want to come and talk to you as a man in danger of dying.” Stevenson replied to that request with his usual gaiety and suggested that the missionary writer was in danger of living.

“I am a sick man and my chances of a long life are few, But supposing I get better I shall need, in that case, someone to give me advice and encouragement for it is harder to live than to die. Any fool can die, as a matter of fact all do. But it takes wisdom and courage to face the dangers of going on in life,” said Stevenson.

The point Stevenson was making was simple - there are dangers in living and we all succumb to them. Let us look at two of the dangers of living.

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There is a danger on valuing life’s prizes over one’s principles. There is a momentary splendour attached to the glittering prizes society holds dear.

Fame and fortune, accomplishments and accumulations have a definite appeal. Noted broadcaster, the late Bernard Levin, always contended that any person having tasted the rewards of power and influence will strive to the death to hold on to that source of earthly glory. We see this at play in the simple instances of many in positions of power, clinging to the trappings of office long after their usefulness has passed.

Philip Sydney, the 16th century English courtier and scholar, argued: “Avoid shame, but do not seek glory. Nothing is as expensive as glory.”

We are pilgrims on a journey living within two time zones. In certain situations the values’ systems of these two realities clash and choices must be made between the world’s empty glory and the vindication of heaven.

Late American evangelist Dr Billy Graham once wrote: “Any philosophy which deals only with the here and now is not adequate as a life guide.”

Choices must be made and eternal issues confront us all. It is make your mind up time.