It is the
eleventh hour. My yellow pad is covered with
false starts and vain ramblings — all fallen short
because they lacked integrity. The problem?
Right now integrity is calling me to face the
ugliness and deceitfulness of my heart and I would
rather write around it, not at it. Better yet, I'd
like to wait until tomorrow; then perhaps these
painful insights will have blown over. But I
can't wait. There is no tomorrow for this: it's
the eleventh hour . . . for many things.
My insurance policy is a telling example. I've
committed myself to provide for and to protect my
wife, but I let my life insurance policy lapse for
nine months and only reinstated it at the last minute
because I was about to step onto a plane headed for
South Africa. If it had not been for the trip
and the reality of danger, I would have let the
policy go indefinitely (unknown to my wife), but I
had to do something. It was the eleventh hour . . .
as it is for many important things.
It is the eleventh hour for my marriage . . . I have
also promised to nourish and cherish my wife, but I'm
so busy with myself that I don't even notice her or
her needs. When we talk, I'm the center of
attention. She gladly and selflessly gives me
that attention. She lavishes encouragement upon
me again and again, only to watch me walk through yet
another day of compromise, another day of not
following through, another day of stopping short of
what I really want to do and be in my life.
It is the eleventh hour for my pride . . . I don't
really want to do this. No, not here. Is
this book an appropriate place to unravel my pride?,
I ask. In front of all these people?, I add.
"Is there a more appropriate place somewhere else?"
comes the reply. So this is the beginning of
integrity. Am I to be honest only when it's
pleasant? I can't wait for a less humiliating
time to face this question, because there is no time
It is the eleventh hour for my Christian faith . . .
A faith that has been so comfortable, so safe, yet so
abstract for so long. Now when it has to mean
something, will it stand the test? The largest
responsibilities in my relationship with God are all
His: His grace, His love, His
forgiveness, His faithfulness, and His mercy —
without these, it would be impossible for me to know
Him. But many duties are also mine: my
faithfulness, my whole-hearted love, my
obedience, my honesty, m y confession, my
repentance. No one, not even He, can do them
for me. I have treaded upon His grace, used it
as an excuse for laziness, and I have taken my
responsibilities lightly. Expecting God to make
up the difference, I have only gone halfway.
I've counted on Him to bail me out — after all,
someone's always done it for me before. But in
spite of His great patience, even He must be growing
I also realize, all too clearly, grace and mercy are
for those who have tried and failed. Well, I
have failed, all right, but sometimes I wonder if
I've ever really tried. If I haven't tried,
then I haven't earned the right to fail.
Instead, I've qualified for grace with cheap failure.
Never intending to do anything about my problem, I
have run to grace as a disobedient son runs to his
mother, to be consoled with a kind, "There, there.
Everything is going to be all right."
I've also twisted my theology to incorporate my
selfishness. Knowing that failure and sin lead
to grace and forgiveness, I have not fought, aware
that grace will be there to cover me over, I have
compromised again and again. I'm hardly a
Jacob. I haven't wrestled with any angels until
they would bless me, and I feel my blessings are
thinning out. It is the eleventh hour for my
When I boarded the plane for South Africa, it was the
eleventh hour for my heart. Traveling to a land
that faces its own eleventh hour, I did not want to
be a pawn of apartheid. I did not desire to
sing nice songs about Jesus while ignoring a
political system that oppresses and dehumanizes men
and women who have been created in God's image.
I was worried that television cameras might show me
smiling with blacks while the government smiled down
on the oppressed and told the world, "See.
There's no problem here. Look how happy the
blacks and whites are together." I would have
dishonored and even degraded the Gospel by being more
impressed with myself on national television than
with the heart of the God who sent Christ to preach
good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the
prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, and
release to the oppressed.
It's the eleventh hour and the clock is ticking.
Time is never on hold. Time is almost up.
It's time to act.
from his book, "Real Christians Don't Dance"
All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of