May I tell you a little story? A true story. Ok, I will speak:
When I was boy around ten, I remember a particular time visiting my grandparents in Texas. They were humble country folk who had a farm in central Texas most of their life. And I loved making the trip to visit them for many reasons. Not the least of which was the love that exuded from being in their presence.
And they loved all us grandchildren like we were princes and princesses. This particular time I walked in while they were sitting and talking at the kitchen table.
I joined them just in time to hear my grandmother say, “Thomas, why is it you have to talk of death so much!?” My granddad said, “Well-ll, goood gahlly-gee, mother (he called her mother on such occasion of her challenges). It’s the only dang thing I c’n be shurr abaout in this world!” Papa drew out his sentences rather slowly in speaking. Kinda like he wanted to be sure he said what he meant. It was his way of speaking, which was always very endearing to me having been born in Texas but raised in the Keweenaw. Mema laughed over his answer; Papa chuckled. Smiling, I pondered his nugget of wisdom.
Time Like a River Moves Forward
I am not in a hurry.
I’m still in Christ’s service at His call whatever it may be.
Even though my Seventy-fifth birthday salutes me in greeting, rather than a shaking of hands as in times past.
Though I think about graduation often. The Lord said we should. It’s the only dang thing we can be sure of in this confused world. And it has a way of keeping our eyes on the One Main thing in life.
I have embraced my peace with the Almighty as He continues to develop it. None in Christ need be concerned about departing this world, for then our mortality is swallowed up by life [Disclaimer: my flesh will continue to fear death, because…well, it just isn’t going with me when I fly away to glory]. Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, Paul, in Christ tells us. The journey between “absent from” and “present with” may still be a mystery. However, trusting the Lord through the journey of life fills me with trust in Him for the last journey.
The following can comfortably be interpreted as our physical life on earth being a shadow in comparison to imperishable eternal life:
[“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”]
2 Corinthians 5:4-5
A Little Background
When change came [The Salvage Man Cometh], captivated unto total and unconditional surrender, the Lord made it clear He wanted to develop within me a continuingly closer relationship with Him. It meant other than a stroll under bright skies and endless sunshine. Neither did it mean a jaunt down a gently rolling meadow-path, summer’s walk.
A generous amount of mental, emotional, and physical pain, as well as loss, has been an instrument of precision in my Maker’s hand. I regret none of it for what He has brought about – the intimacy of knowing Him.
In Christ’s story, there is a place where He says, “there will always be wars and rumors of wars.” I soon came to the assumption He put that there meaning it personally for me, thousands of years before I came to planet ‘Warfare.’
As I walked further along in the way, I met a few other fellow travelers. While comparing notes with them I learned they, too, had such workings with Him. I concluded, therefore, intimacy with God was a request common to all His followers.
But walking even further, I met many who were surprised at the thought of it being possible to have close, intimate relations with God while still on earth.
Was I surprised they never considered it? I pondered this information and added it to my growing understanding of God’s ways as He continued leading me.
“Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). All are not selected to have the same relationship with the Lord. However, all are called to have a connection with Him. Therefore, many who think it is enough to believe there is a God and leave it at that are sadly mistaken. It is a matter of the eighteen inches (or 45 cm) between the heart and the mind. If there is a disconnect in that span the soul shrinks. Can we believe if we don’t also experience inner change?
At the center of care for the heart is the love of God. This must be the joyful aim of our life. That is why Jesus stated that the first commandment is to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This is a command. It is something we are to do, and something we can do. We will learn how to do it if we intend to do it. God will help and encourage us, and we will find the way in following Him.
Whomsoever is willing can; this by way of calling to mind the true majesty of God in sincere, deep and lengthy thoughts on the attributes of God. It grows. God feeds the hunger enough to grow increasingly hungry to know more of God.
Were there ever lesser things I thought more worthy than knowing God? Yes, but they have been lost in my vapor trail (items discarded) over the length of years, having so swiftly passed.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5
Relevant Note: My 75th BD salutes me as it arrives. And I remember, it is the age my grandpa went home to be with the Lord. He followed my grandmother by a year. So it seemed suitable for me to pause, ponder, and reflect.
I mentioned to my doctor I never expected to make it this far. He said he could understand that with my medical history. I laughed. He didn’t appreciate my humor. I explained I didn’t refer to my medical history. It’s about my life’s background and how God’s humongous saving grace was involved all the way! He smiled, saying he understood that as well. He’s three years older than me and loves the Lord. That’s why he’s still my doctor. We communicate.
Épilogue Post Script:
I questioned whether to post this because, after all, one just doesn’t write about their own mortality in polite society, this being America. I went back and forth, “should I should, or should I shouldn’t?” I didn’t write about my Seventieth BD. Maybe I should wait till my Eightieth. Then I remembered again. “Death is the only thing we can be sure of in this world.”
We are not guaranteed tomorrow, let alone five years down the road. That goes for whatever age we happen to be. By ignoring it, maybe it would be an affront to God’s grace. It is He who holds our time in His hands. Psalm 90 says man’s days are 70 years or 80 years if strong. Therefore, I look at every year past 70 as being God’s extending gift of grace.
As such, I give to God, in Christ, all glory for His manifold grace, mercy, and loving-kindness, of which He has led me thus far through it all!
Thank you, Our Father, for the thrill of reaching this mile-marker, and with it another Ebenezer of Remembrance. Thank You for EVERYTHING! Your sweet cups, and Your bitter cups. In the Name of the most precious gift You have given me, Jesus my Savior, Your Son. And the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit, a foretaste of Your kingdom come to earth. Great is Your Faithfulness! Amen.
~G.W. (just thinking…on things past, present, and future.)
For Further Reference: