Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Brevity of Life

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
–Ephesians 5:15-16

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
-James 4:14

“Resolution #6: “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.’”
-Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, xx-xxi

Judy, Nathanael, Lydia, Daphne (our golden retriever) and I went to the coast yesterday, specifically to Long Beach, Washington and Astoria, Oregon. It was an unusually beautiful day. It was warm and there was no wind to speak of. For a while the kids played in the surf and I threw a ball for the dog as Judy basked in the warm sunshine. For some reason I became quite melancholy. As I watched the kids play in the surf I become freshly aware of the brevity of life and that these moments as a parent would soon be gone. Soon enough both Nathanael and Lydia will be out of the home and Judy and I will begin a new season of life together. We drove to Oysterville and visited the old Baptist church. We spent about an hour just looking at old graves in the Oysterville pioneer cemetery and talking about our own mortality. We ate all the wrong food. We saw Jake the Alligator man at Marshes museum. We got into a goofy staredown with a raccoon in downtown Ilwaco. We saw a herd of elk at Fort Clatsop. We drove to Astoria and fearfully climbed the Astor Column. At the end of the day the kids went out of their way to express their appreciation for the time we were able to spend together. It was an extraordinary day and will likely be a day not soon forgotten. These kinds of days seem to be few and far between. Like Peter in Luke 9, I wanted to build three tents and set up camp. I didn’t want it to end.

At different points during the day I began to think about God’s grace and the brevity of life. How is it that God gives wonderful days like this to undeserving sinners? Theologians call it ‘common grace’, or that grace that is a reflection of God’s kindness to believer and unbeliever alike (Matthew 5:45, Romans 2:4). And any gift that God gives (including wonderful days at the beach) comes as a result of His Son. Our lives are a vapor- too soon gone. I cannot keep time from moving forward, but because of Christ I can implore God for the grace to redeem it. Because of the gospel, forgiven sinners can see redeeming grace brought into the brevity of life and see it utilized for God’s glory. Even the unmerciful tyrant time must bow before Lord of eternity. The Psalmist writes, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). May this be our resolution and prayer, “Lord, teach me to take whatever days of my life that may be left and redeem them so that you may be glorified above all else.”

Your brother by grace, Dan

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