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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Like Sands Through the Hourglass, So Are the Days of Our Lives"

As I write this, I’m 24 hours out of a heavenly week spent lounging on a beach, sipping giant Icees and devouring two novels. We’ve been vacationing on Anna Maria Island, and I’m already wistful about the satiny white sand cooling my toes and gently buffing my heels, the bubbling waves rolling onto the shore, the seagulls’ cries and the carefree banter and laughter of my children swimming together in the ocean. For one week, we simply existed, without any thoughts toward deadlines, school or work. Read: “Sigh.”

Today, we’re revving up to move into dorms, begin new ministry programs and continue work projects. Time, perhaps our most precious commodity, stops for no one.

--Wait a minute--of course it does! We all have a number of days allotted to us (Job 14:5) and then time becomes a historical phenomenon; eternity stretches on before us.

I’ve been thinking about how I invest my personal allotment of time, about making a difference in my sphere of influence, because soon (we are all merely one heartbeat away) time will stop indeed.

Although it’s not an original notion, I couldn’t help noticing this week how the tide washed away my many “signatures” on the beach: my footprints, my castles, my name in the sand—all of the marks that said, “I’m here!” were relentlessly erased. Before the orange sun dipped into the ocean each evening, any signs of the life-form known as “Linda” were completely gone, reminding me of the temporal versus the eternal, prompting me to wonder: “What imprints of mine will remain after I’m gone?”

I’ve decided there are three eternal depositories into which I can wisely invest my time; maybe they will speak to you, too:

1) Knowing and promulgating the word of God. Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” And 1 Peter 1:25a says, “But the word of the Lord endures for ever.” God’s word is alive and immutable; it’s validity transcends time because his character never changes. So even when there will be a new heaven and earth, his word will remain perpetually consistent. Therefore, when I use my tongue (or my keyboard!) to share his word and encourage others, I contribute to influencing the world for God’s eternal glory. That is exciting!

2) Cultivating relationships. In John 5:24, Jesus promises us “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that Messiah “will swallow up death forever” (25:8). In other words, people (their spirits, the core of who they are) last forever. Therefore, if I invest in people, I’m making an eternal investment. Creating time for nurturing relationships is important, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. Daily duties, personal fears of rejection or feeling smothered can keep me from being vulnerable or available to people. But people matter to God, and they should (and do) matter to me, so I must make time to be relationally present. We are meant to live in community, now and throughout eternity. I want to be the friend who is there in the capacity Aaron was for Moses; I want to be the friend who always points the other to Christ, our one and only Answer.

3) Creating a spiritual legacy. I want to foster a spiritual heritage for my family for many generations to come, including those who will most likely not even know my name in two or three generations. I would love for my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be able to echo the psalmist: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). I recall Paul’s reference to Timothy’s faith-filled mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, and how Timothy assumed the cloak of their strong faith (2 Timothy 1:5). I don’t have a boatload of valuable material possessions to pass on to my children, but maybe through faithful, intentional prayer, they will prosper spiritually and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to share abundant life with him. If the prayers of a righteous man availeth much, how much more so the prayers of a faithful grandma?!

In my first sentence, I called my week of languid existence “heavenly,” but I don’t really believe we will merely lounge around in eternity. I believe we will have roles to fulfill and rewards to enjoy. I want to invest my time in things that matter, things that last—promoting the ageless, unalterable word of God, living in community and love with immortal brothers and sisters, and leaving a legacy of faith for those who will carry on after me. And if there happens to be glistening alabaster sand in heaven, I can live with that, too.

Please visit my personal blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

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Anonymous Lynn said...

Hi Linda,

You have this exactly right. I echo these priorities for my life as well. The only thing lasting is a life lived for Jesus.

Wonderful Post!! Thank you.

August 14, 2007 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

Lovely post, Linda! I love how God teaches us things through our everyday. I too, desire all these that you mentioned.

August 14, 2007 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I love this post - right on target as always. To me, you are that Aaron kind of friend and I can't thank you enough. Personally, I'm really hoping there are some oceans, sunsets, and sandy beaches in heaven.

August 14, 2007 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how the Lord shows us the spiritual truths through the simplest things! How humbling to compare our life to a word written in sand. WOW! But to make an eternal difference, what a thing to shoot for! Thanks for sharing, Linda.

August 14, 2007 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

What a wonderful post. When we were at the beach, I was looking at the sand on my fingers and how God made the promise to Abraham so long ago about his descendants. . .and how that has come true. . .and how full heaven must REALLY be by now. The beach is a wonderful gift, because the washing away of the signs of us, leaves some room to allow God back in a little more. :)

August 14, 2007 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous SingForHim @ RealLife said...

So true, Linda! And I love your signature picture in the sand.

August 14, 2007 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

I hope I'll be quilting away, and taking breaks by the sandy beach in heaven. I think you're right about our roles. May they be perfectly defined and infinitely rewarding to those around us, as well as ourselves.

August 14, 2007 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Chris @ Come to the Table said...

This was so good and an excellent reminder of taking inventory of how we spend our time. I want to invest wisely!

August 14, 2007 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Loved your points...

Glad you had a relaxing time on vacation..:)

August 15, 2007 at 7:35 AM  

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