A Time to Live & a Time to Die: Reflections on Time & Eternity

A Time to Live & a Time to Die: Reflections on Time & Eternity

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
    A time to be born and a time to die...
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a,4a (NLT)

Time, that fleeting commodity that holds us while on this earth! Yet, we can't hold onto it! And for all of us, time is ticking away. We are closer to the end of our earthly journey every second that we live.

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Serving God's Purpose in my Fleeting Days...

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep...Acts 13:36a

A few years ago, my husband had what I call "a heart episode" -- not a heart attack, praise God, but an issue with his heart rhythms that sent him to the emergency room.  Since John had had a "widow maker" heart attack several years before, the docs decided to keep him in the hospital and run some tests.

I kissed John good-by that night and went home.  I had perfect peace that John was in good hands...and most of all, the Great Hands of our Healer God!  Exhausted by the long day, I hastily sent out an email to some of our "prayer peeps," asking for prayer for John and signing it with Acts 13:36a.  The Lord had just reminded me of this verse a week or two before as I was sharing with a small Bible study group.  My friend Jenna, who had been a part of that group, jokingly responded to my email, "Are you sure you want Acts 13:36?  Are we praying that John live or die (fall asleep)?"

For those of you who may also be a bit confused as to why I would share Acts 13 in a prayer request for John's health, let me give a little background:

My fascination with this truth began several years before.  My husband John was leading us through the book of Acts in our kinship group.  Maps went up on the screen, the journeys of Paul were clarified, even drawings and photos of archaeological dig sites were explained and imagined!  I don't remember much to tell you the truth.   But I do remember the above verse.  It really hit me like a ton of bricks...and as I've meditated on it and mulled over it for days and weeks and months and even years, it has brought me tremendous encouragement and peace.  Why, you may ask?

Well, as an answer to that question, here's my PS to my praise report sent to our praying friends the following week:

For those of you who may have been confused as to my verse -- it's a great comfort to me that our life on earth will not end until God has fulfilled His purpose through each of us in our generation!  Amen to Acts 13:36A!

And isn't that what life is all about for us children of God...to so let Him live and love and serve through us that His great purpose in His Son, from before time began, will be worked out in and through our human lives on this earth.  What an awesome privilege and hope!  We are part of something bigger than us!

There's a song that I discovered last year that makes me think of my Acts 13 verse.  It wasn't long after hearing for the first time this haunting melody (Johann Sebastian Bach's melody "Wachet Auf" played on folk instruments) and the accompanying song, that I started playing it in my car on my way to work each day.

It moves me to think that the Lord Christ uses the work I do each day to accomplish His purpose -- to glorify Himself and build His kingdom.

That's because He lives His life through me His child, His disciple, His instrument.

I particularly love one of the lines:

May we...Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days...

It reminds me of my verse.  I love to take David's name out and put my name in:

Jan, when she has served the purpose of God in her generation, will fall asleep...into the Arms of Abba Father God!

And perhaps you would like to fill in the blank with your name...

________________, when he/she has served the purpose of God in his/her generation, will fall asleep...into the Arms of Abba Father God!

...and then join me in this prayer:

Oh Father, may I serve your purpose in my own generation!

Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given You’re servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe;
For each skill Your grace has given me;
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify You great Name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘till Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, Our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your Name.

Before You I Kneel (A Worker's Prayer), Keith & Kristyn Getty

The Fleeting Sands of Time

The clock is ticking...the 2012 calendar pages are getting ready to close... And as they do, I'm happy to introduce you to another "guest branch."  Sue Cutting is a long-time friend, sister in the Lord, fellow homeschooler of yesteryear...but most of all a devout and earnest follower of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this short piece, Sue writes from a "senior" perspective about the passage of time.  But this is not just for us seniors.  It's also for all younger folk:  moms, dads, singles...even teenagers.  Why?  Because life is fleeting...it's a vapor, a mist as the book of James says,

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  James 4:14

So join me in reading  and reflecting.  Thank you, Sue, for these wise words.

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Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time…Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

A collection of hourglasses is gathered on a small, round table in our home. They are visible reminders of time relentlessly and silently slipping away.  At this point in our lives, more minutes are gone than yet remain and we want to be on guard against “time thieves” waiting to steal our treasured moments.

We remind ourselves that we can’t afford to waste time worrying. It is far better to pray, meditate on truth – and trust God.  We can’t afford to squander our days chasing fantasies or amassing more trinkets destined to rust, corrode or be eaten by moths.  No time left to “impress people” at the expense of pleasing God. No time left to expect others to meet the deepest needs of our hearts – because only God can do that.

We have these fleeting sands of time to live intentionally, thankfully, being mindful of the beauty around us and the multitude of blessings from a good God.  

For God so loved the world that He sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

The privilege and responsibility of sharing this Good News with succeeding generations becomes more precious and pressing as the hourglass empties.

Sue & Tom Cutting