Lately, I have been really pondering this thing called life.
How fleeting it is. And how sad. And how lovely.
I think it’s pretty natural for most people to start reviewing their lives a bit when things start changing for them. As you already know, life is changing for me. With an extremely busy husband and two very busy young women living at home, I find myself alone more often than not these days. This is quite an adjustment for a mom who used to home school four kids. No children’s laughter ringing out loudly in the evening air. No passionate arguing. No calling of “Mom!” from across the yard. The house seems to almost join my sadness in its eery silence. It gives me way too much time to think.
And so how appropriate that in the past week of our Bible Challenge I read Ecclesiastes. How poignant to read these words–
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
These are just a couple of phrases from Solomon’s poem about life. But these especially struck me, being where I am at in life just now. I feel like I should add a verse:
A time to raise children
And a time for them to start out on their own.
Of course, Ecclesiastes 3 is best left without my addition. But it is certainly something I have been contemplating much lately.
But it’s the first part of that poem that we really start to understand and think on as we grow older and become more familiar with death–
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
Here in America, we seem especially inoculated to this thing called death. With modern medicine, we see less of it than any other group of people in all of history. And so it scares most of us. And we hate it. We hate to see anything die (even baby birds, if you remember my post from Monday). But, much more so, we hate to see people die. And so when something like the church shooting in Charleston happens, we struggle with it. Why were these people ruthlessly murdered? It just seems so cruel and tragic.
I heard John MacArthur’s thoughtful response to this event the other day and it really makes sense in light of Ecclesiastes. He first shared that he had been in Charleston for a conference and had met many of the African-American pastors there. He had been welcomed there with open arms. He asked us all to pray for the Christians–our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ–that are hurting there. He was heart-broken. And then he added one more thing–
He said may this remind us that death is a reality. We are all going to die. May this remind us why we need to keep sharing the gospel. Because the only thing that can take away the sting of death is salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Because our lives are so much more than these fleeting moments on earth.
Those aren’t his exact words but my paraphrase of them. As I thought about his words, I realized just how distracted I can become by the things that aren’t important in the light of eternity.
We can become a bit depressed as we read these words of Ecclesiastes 12:a–
For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?
And the words of James 4:14–
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
But then we realize the hope that is within us as believers! We have many promises in God’s Word on which to build our faith (Romans 8:28-39; I Peter 5:7; Isaiah 41:10; John 11:25-26; I John 3:2-3; Philippians 3:20-21 to name a few).
This hope we have in Christ us should make us different in this world where death is such a non-negotiable part of life–
1. We should have a “peace that passeth understanding”. (Philippians 4:7)
2. We should remain hopeful– even in the midst of the worst circumstances. (I Peter 1:3-5)
3. We should have the true joy that comes from standing guiltless before God through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)
4. We should have a driving need to tell others about salvation and the promise of eternal life we have because of it. (Romans 10:14-15)
But instead, so many of us Christians are apathetic and distracted. We don’t really care if our neighbors and co-workers know the Lord because we have enough of our own problems.
We don’t have hope or joy or peace, because we have invested heavily into the things of this world and this is where our treasures are–worldly, precarious treasures that come and go like the wind.
No matter where we find ourselves–whether young or old, poor or wealthy, single or parent–we need to ask ourselves these questions:
What am I doing to make sure that anyone who comes in contact with me knows that I have a hope within that doesn’t compare to anything that the world offers?
What am I doing to make sure that my treasures are in heaven and not on earth?
Life is fleeting. And we are all going to die. These are two facts we cannot escape.
Am I leaving a legacy that is befitting one of God’s servants? And have I liberally planted seeds to further God’s kingdom?