Prays Together: That Went Fast!
By Jim Newman
I sometimes think about the words I might like written on my tombstone. Words like, “I told you I was sick!” or, “Tomorrow finally came” and, “That went fast!” are a few of those I’ve thought about. Sometimes I think that just the words, “Born” and “Died,” with a dash in between them, are all that’s needed. They pretty much sum-up how many of us could describe our lives, don’t they? A dash through life! Our lives just get so busy that we never really take the time to stop the hectic pace and take a few moments to “smell the roses,” as they say, or to breathe in the beauty of what’s around us. But, unfortunately, we have no time to talk; no time to listen; no time to think things through; no time to plan for tomorrow! No Time for God! We’re just too busy!
There was a plaque which hung in our house when I was growing up. It had an old saying from the Pennsylvania Dutch people. “We get too soon oldt, Undt too late schmart.” That kind of describes how I sometimes feel when I look back over my life. I graduated from high school and college thinking I was pretty smart, but as my life has gone fleeting by, I have learned, sometimes painfully so, that I really don’t know very much. And much of what I have learned was not so much from the “book learning” I had, but rather it came from the lessons that came out of the hard times: the rejections and failures I experienced, and the “not so wise choices” I sometimes made, with the consequences that often resulted, as well!
“Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it yet!” That’s a quote from the novel by L. M. Montgomery, “Anne of Green Gables.” Anne faced each new day with boundless enthusiasm. Every day was an adventure from which she could learn and in which she could bring encouragement and joy to others. And, importantly, she always seemed to take the time to see the beauty in the world around her.
Two weeks from today I’ll be flying back to New Jersey to attend my 50th high school graduation reunion. I hope I’ll be able to recognize my “old” classmates, most of whom I haven’t seen in 50 years! Where did the years go (and when did we get old)? What have we done with our lives (and who may have passed away)? I don’t know, but how I’m looking forward to having the time to reminisce together!
There was another plaque which used to hang on the wall in my childhood home. I think it comes closer to the words I would really like on my tombstone. It says simply, “Only one life t’will soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” That little plaque has hung on my wall wherever God has guided my path in life: my childhood home in New Jersey, college in Illinois, seminary in Texas, youth ministry in Illinois and Connecticut, missionary work in Italy, and pastoral ministry in New Jersey and now here in California. It describes the desire of my life: to know Christ and to live for his glory.
Life is fleeting! One day it will be over for each of us. While we may not have all the answers to our questions about life or the future, what we need to know is found in God’s Word, the Bible. It teaches us that God loves us and has a plan and purpose for each one of us. In Christ our sins are forgiven. He has redeemed our lives and He wants us to know Him, and to experience the fullness of life that He alone can provide.
He also wants us to slow down; to “be still and know that He is God,” (Psalm 46:10). Augustine, an early Christian theologian, said, “Our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in Thee.” Isn’t it time for a rest stop? Why not take some time with Him right now?
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.