Not Just a Moment in Time
New Year’s Day: a day to contemplate the past and look forward to the future. We were blessed to have a special family outing January 1st, 2018. Our oldest son was in town for the holidays and treated the entire family to a special New Year’s Day meal at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC as a Christmas gift. It was very cold outside, so we rushed into the inn, waiting to warm ourselves inside. We had a fantastic meal. Everyone ate too much and it was lovely just to spend time together in beautiful surroundings and to splurge on a bountiful and delicious meal.
We took a stroll around the building to see the National Gingerbread Competition entries which were displayed there. Our three-year-old grandson insisted we all stop and sit in the rocking chairs (all of us), so we all stopped and sat there for a while, just enjoying being together. A moment in time that day, but looking back now, it was a special moment. I’m glad I took a picture or two.
A Talk About Time
We headed back home and some of us decided to see a movie in town as it wasn’t playing near us just yet. While part of the family headed home, the rest of us took a leisurely drive home after the movie. The drive was pleasant and the conversation turned toward our resolutions or areas of focus for the new year. Each gave an account of what he had planned to focus on for the new year. I was the last to comment. I had been praying about being very intentional in my relationships, schedule, etc. and focusing on a study of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Last year, God made it clear that stewardship should be my focus and it was very helpful to keep that focus throughout the year. It was the first year I really had a focus like that. Other years I had created and made plans to achieve certain goals, but that was about it. Since I had seen some success with a particular focus last year, I thought I would do the same this year.
Our Time Together Took a Terrible Turn
Just a few minutes away from our house, and still mulling through what my goals would look like, I received a call from our second son, who headed toward home earlier with his family. His father-in-law had an emergency. Out of nowhere. Good health, still young. His heart failed. Our minds were racing toward last week.
We had just spent time together with him and his dear wife for a special gender reveal at our son’s house just two days prior. What a joy to find out that we were about to share being grandparents to another sweet baby boy in June. We were all together experiencing this joy as a family just 2 days earlier. The words, heart failure, were out of place in our day and in our conversation about the future. It was only a short time later that we were told that our friend, my precious daughter-in-law’s dad, was already in Heaven.
Time Seemed to Stand Still
Overwhelming thought. All the plans for a new year- and for him- gone. His new life was now perfect with His Savior. No pain, no dread, no guilt, no goals to be fulfilled, and no struggle. In some ways, my husband and I were jealous of his immediate life change. One minute in this sin-cursed world, and literally in the next moment, he was in the arms of his Savior. Time seemed to stand still and at the same time, it continues on for those left behind as we prepared for the funeral, in conversations, time spent with family, etc.
Time became a bigger thought in my mind. Most people think about organization and how to better use their time this time of year. We had just talked on our ride home about apps we could use this year to manage time. We talked about taking the time to exercise, drink water, listen to audiobooks, and read more of the Bible this upcoming year. Time was a primary thought that week already. But not until time stopped still for a family member did we value the gift and gravity of the responsibility of time. Isn’t that always true of life and death? That is no accident.
God Values Time
God gave so much grace during the next few days. The fellowship and tears shed were sweet as we spent time together as a family. Looking ahead, there is much more for those who are still together here on earth. But one thing that struck me at the funeral was the passage of Scripture which most people are familiar with from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verses 1-8.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Thinking About Time
We have heard and read these verses many times before. We had experienced death before, but not so suddenly and on New Year’s Day. To think about time in such a profound way- especially when your mind was already there. Why did our family member die now? So suddenly, so young? The pastor then brought to mind the verses in Ecclesiastes.
It was the time God appointed for Him. God, in His sovereignty, gives us seasons and times in our lives. We all have birthdates, right? Being a mom of 4 kids, and a grandmother of one and one on the way, I understand that a due date is an important date. But we never know for sure when that precious one is going to be born (unless there is a medically scheduled birth). We wait with anticipation for that date and time that God designed for our loved one to be born. God also has an appointed time for us to die. And there are divine appointments all throughout our lives in between those dates. He gives us a free will to choose our path, but He also leads and directs us as we trust Him.
How Will I Use My Time?
So for those of us remaining- what do we do with the time in between? How do we choose to live? Do we eat, drink, and be merry, because who knows what will happen tomorrow? Do we keep a strict schedule trying to cram a lifetime into a short period of time in anticipation that tomorrow it could be us standing at the feet of Jesus? I can’t know that for your life. But I can point you to our family member’s guide for his life and for mine.
Lord willing, I can try to balance things out – not knowing how many days I have, to be obedient to God’s leading in my life while still enjoying the many goodnesses He gives along the way. Yes, I will continue my quest for good health and enjoy a good piece of chocolate now and again. I will take time to give a hug, say and a kind word, and focus my heart on the bigger picture when I feel like being petty and full of myself.
Going back to that idea of stewardship. God gives us responsibilities and relationships. He tells us we need to rest and we need to be diligent. Will I be successful every day? Nope. I’m human. But God gives grace and forgiveness along with wisdom, correction, and leading as we follow him. That’s why you want to surround yourself with those of like faith while reaching out to others who are not. You want to fill your activities, thoughts, and mind with things that are profitable to keep you focused while enjoying the fun and the ordinary.
Time With God
I like to think about our family member’s home-going in this way. First, he walked and talked with God daily. I know this because he gave testimony to the fact that he was a Christian and we talked many times about God’s role in his life and ours. Secondly, on New Year’s Day, in his daily life, in his walk with God, in the mundane of that day (he stood up to go get something to drink), the Father said, “Come with me in this direction,” and he turned and went. He knew God’s voice, and he turned toward Him and went. That quickly – he walked seamlessly from life to life eternal. Walking with God here and walking with Him there. He shed his earthly body, but that walk he had with God that he experienced throughout his life continued.
He spends his time now spent in Glory – reaping the reward of the benefits of trusting Christ as his Savior. Not because he was perfect, or that his good outweighed his bad, but because he put his trust in the work of Jesus Christ to satisfy a holy God’s requirement for the payment of his sin. He chose to believe and trust God’s truth and plans for his life.
Make Time Count
And so, thinking about these things, my mind rushed to this idea – my focus for this year was about time. What is in my future? How much time do I have left? I have no idea. God may allow me to live to be a wrinkly, spunky, old lady. He might not. But I do know that God has given the time between now and when He takes me to be with Him to love intentionally and bear fruit for His sake and to shed light into this dark world we all live in. This is not a new revelation to me of course, as I am sure it might not be for you either, but it did help me to shape a specific area of focus for this year. Make time count.
That does not mean that I will feverishly account for every minute of my day and that I will work tirelessly to fix everything for everyone, but it does mean that I will, by His grace, prioritize and make a good effort to accomplish the things that God has provided and asked of me and to explore the things He is leading me to do.
It means I will, by His grace, not involve myself in petty arguments and gossip, or spend my time dwelling on false guilt, fear, anger, or bitterness. But I will pray for grace and wisdom to spend my time more effectively helping, praying and engaging in being salt and light- while leaning on Him for direction and grace. I will try to smell the roses and share them with others, so-to-speak. The little graces God gives us each day as well as the big truths He teaches us day-by-day through His Word and through the way He leads us in our lives.
Thankful For God’s Timing
Believe it or not, I’m thankful for that painful, poignant, and beautiful New Year’s lesson. I am thankful for our family member’s life and the gifts he has shared with all those who know him. Selfishly, I’m thankful that my daughter-in-law and grandson look like him and have some of his qualities. But most of all, I’m thankful for his testimony of loving God. And although he was just a man living life, he was a man who loved and followed after God. And when the time came, He literally followed after God. I look forward to the day we will share that inheritance. In the meantime, hug your loved ones. Forgive those who have hurt you. Bear fruit. Walk with God. Redeem the time.
Verses About Time
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
James 4:14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Mark 13:32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
John 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Sharon Fisher holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Elementary Education. She has 14 years of full time teaching experience in the elementary classroom, served as Curriculum Coordinator for Bob Jones Academy, and served as an elementary author for BJU Press. She has contributed to a variety of elementary educational materials and has presented workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of elementary-level subjects and teaching methods. She currently writes a blog and is Social Media Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist for HomeWorks by Precept, a provider of excellent education products, including BJU Press. She is the mother of four grown sons, a grandmother to Ben, and has a passion for encouraging Christian educators and homeschool parents to teach children with excellence and with a biblical worldview.