The first few decades we rush ahead
Wanting time to fly, but it creeps instead
Impatient to be older, sure that it’s our way
To freedom and happiness, where we’ll leisurely play.
Sure enough time goes rapidly by
Flashing so speedily, we watch it fly
Moments of grandeur, days that are grueling
Ordinary stretches our quick lives fueling
Soon the road in our rearview stretches much longer
Our foot on the brakes, though the pace is much stronger
The road out before us is sloped and quick,
We savor the present, future curves might make us sick.
But we know that this journey, so speedily taken
Will reach its destination, there’s no mistaking.
There’s still plenty of grand views on the side of this road
But we encounter new impediments and a heavier load
How could we go faster, as there are higher hills to climb?
Yet this road is so short and is hemmed in by time.
I praise God this journey is not a dead end,
I’m traveling to see my dear Savior and friend,
Who’s waiting my coming, however many more miles,
Where days are not counted, and tears become smiles.
That’s free of all calendars and increases in age,
And length of existence stretches one eternal page.
The law of averages says I’m about halfway through,
Or perhaps a bit farther, so here’s what I’ll do,
Make the most of each moment, helping others prepare
For a happy destination, showing how to get there.
It is hard to describe the beauty of faith evidenced in Room 913 yesterday as all the elders and their wives, Wes and Teri Autrey, and Tiffanie and Bethany Vaught stood with Myrna and the rest of the Murphy family at University Hospital yesterday. We sang songs and Dave Chamberlin prayed a touching, loving prayer. Moments later, a godly, wonderful woman made her transition from this life to the better one. Despite the inevitable, natural flow of tears, the heartache of separation, and the final earthly stanza of a beautiful, 59-year-old love song played by Ray and Myrna. Myrna was an obvious success as a mother, wife, grandmother, and friend, but central to everything she did and who she was was Christ. She did not fear death nor the condition that brought it. She was ready because of Christ.
When I think of the red-letter days that have occurred in our nation and world during my lifetime, whether the bombing of the Murrah Building, the horrors of 9/11, the unbelievable natural disaster of the December 26, 2004, tsumami (“Boxer Day Tsumami”), the disappearance of the Malaysia Airliner, and the like, I am made to think how many stood in the wake of such tragedy without the hope and promise made possible through Christ. Yet, every ordinary day where death looms through the natural course of life, people come to those final moments either ignorant or bereft of the bright prospect of what happens beyond death. Certainly, some think they have hope, but it is not hope rested in what they can find in Scripture but rather what they think, feel, or have been told is real and true. In some ways, those situations are the most tragic of all. Others are convinced that we are the result of chance and will cease to be when we draw our last breath, yet they continue to try and live with purpose and even act in the interest of others without bothering to ask why they behave civilized with such an animalistic point of view.
But for the one whose hope is built on the truth of what God’s Word says, there is no tidal wave of heart or explosion of life powerful enough to wrench us free from that hope. Paul exalts that we are saved by unseen hope (Rom. 8:24-25). In the rest of the chapter, he proclaims the unfailing love and promise of God for the redeemed who place their trust in Him. Paul encourages the Thessalonians not to face death, sorrowing like a world without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Without Christ’s resurrection, there is no hope (cf. 1 Cor. 15:19-20). However, because He lives, we can face tomorrow, all fear is gone, we know who holds the future, and life is worth living (Bill Gaither lyrics from “Because He Lives”).
The Murphys will have sorrow and grief to bear. This is a testimony to their humanity. But they look at tomorrow with an even brighter anticipation. This is a testimony to the Christ who lives in them. It is available for us all!
On the young man’s Facebook page, he made hopeful comments. He had just graduated High School when he wrote, “Can’t wait to see what’s in store for my future.” Randomly, several weeks later, he gushed, “Some day, I’m going to travel the world.” The Colorado Mesa University student from Lakewood, Colorado, was 19 years old when he went hiking in Bangs Canyon south of Grand Junction and fell to his death on Saturday.
Obituary columns are supposed to be filled with wrinkled faces and names that sound like our grandparent’s generation. Birth dates should go way back to the early or at least mid-1900s. We’re just not conditioned to think that death can come to the young. But if we are careful Bible readers, we realize that there is no guarantee that we reach Moses’ inspired guideline for life expectancy of 70 or 80 (Psa. 90:10). We listen to James as the Holy Spirit leads him to write, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (4:14). It does not say that the vapor floats around for a century and a half or more. We do not get to decide how high and long our vapor hangs in the air.
The fact of this uncertainty ought to cause all of us, wherever we are on the time continuum, to take the attitude James urges. He writes, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'” (4:15). Such a statement shows submission under God, humility before God, and obligation to God. This will help us see each day as a gift from Him and should cause us to use it wisely and productively to accomplish His will. It should also prompt us not to delay following and submitting our lives to Him. Instead, it should cause us to not delay becoming a Christian, leaving a lifestyle of sin, or getting actively involved in serving Christ.
Most of us will likely reach a ripe old age. The law of averages are at play. But we do not get to choose if we do or do not. What we can choose is who we serve and when!
Take not the day for granted,
Who knows what the morrow brings,
What present joy be recanted,
What shut the mouth that now sings.
Too often we long for tomorrow,
Assuring ourselves it will be perfect,
Dissatisfied with present perceived sorrow
Viewing only today’s every defect.
But right now, this moment, is precious
It holds a bright and unique treasure
For the one with wisdom who confesses
Trust in Him who blesses without measure
Yes, God gave us this day in His kindness
To use for His glory and pleasure
How tragic to be struck with a blindness
To how rare and how useful that treasure.
So many have not been gifted these hours
They’ve ceased their ability to live them
Who long for what now exceeds their powers
Whose light is put out, not just dim.
What are we doing with the present
To build a spectacular time ahead
To make others’ lives blessed, not just pleasant
To bring life to the spiritually dead
Take not the day for granted,
It was given to be managed astutely
Embrace it, don’t be disenchanted
Do your best with it, strive resolutely!