Our life is full of beginnings and endings. The first big ending in my life was the first day of junior high. All my friends I had gone to school with for 6 years rode the bus together from our little country elementary school into town to the big junior high school.
Arriving, we were ushered to the gym where we sat in our little group of friends. As other buses arrived from other rural elementary schools and town schools, each group sat apart.
The principal welcomed us, and announced our homeroom assignments. As he read our names alphabetically, each group would leave following their homeroom teacher. As he continued, all my friends disappeared until I was alone.
I was assigned to a homeroom where I didn’t know anyone. My old world was ending, and a new one was beginning.
I’m still in touch with a few of my elementary school friends. Most, though, I was never that close to again. Our tight group and close bond just dissolved. That time was over – and a new one was beginning; one in which I made new friends.
Then that time ended – and another began. Again and again. Our lives consist of chapters, places, and times, which all pass so quickly and are seemingly forever gone.
But that’s just not so. Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything there is a time and a season, which rightly describes the transitory nature of this world. But Ecclesiastes also tells us about God and those things which endure forever: What God does endures forever. Nothing can diminish it. What God does shapes time – and us. And what we do with God shapes time and us and others forever.
Recently, I was enjoying Utah’s slickrock canyons when it hit: A rain so hard that the wipers couldn’t keep up. In minutes, the rain stopped, but the water wasn’t done. Off the tops of the red mesas came all these chocolate waterfalls. The rain couldn’t go down into rock; so, instead, it went sideways over rock, pouring off cliff faces: Scouring canyon walls with gravel, sagebrush, and even small trees. It hit me what a force this was. This seemingly weakest of elements – water – had shaped and was shaping everything around me. Puny, soft, malleable water was able over time to master rock. Miraculously, water with time even created the Grand Canyon.
That desert downpour taught me a lot about God and how God works: Most of us don’t think about God that much and when we do, we don’t think God is that powerful. The ways of God are compassion, forgiveness, holiness, and the power of love. The ways of the world are indifference, vengeance, haughtiness, and the love of power – which always seem to take the day.
But God and his ways take the ages, carrying all of time – and us – toward God’s own, good ends. Like water, God and God’s ways have their way. They patiently, persistently shape us and our world into a new creation – in which all of seasons of our lives, the turbulence of our time, and the weight of the ages are transformed, by grace, unto beauty, justice, and peace.
Jesus, the Alpha and Omega; the First and the Last; the Beginning and the End shall gather up all our beginnings and endings – all that is; all that already has been; and all that shall be – under his gracious reign, which we can join.
Since God is love, every loving thing you do with God stands forever, incorporated into the work of grace and the shape of heaven. God adds your loving acts to the flow of the Kingdom of God, which levels mountains, cutting through rock-hard obstacles – like prejudice, pettiness, and hate – to bring about a beauty and grace, which we can trust God to bring to completion.
In God nothing is lost. Not one thing. Not one soul. Not any former time of blessing. Those all live on in God’s heart – as we do. We are held in love. And as our seasons come and go; as we rejoice and as we grieve, we can trust that God’s love will carry us forward, drying our tears and helping us discover fresh grace to live.
As the saying goes, “Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly.” The same thing is true for you – and will happen to you. Love will carry the day. You will be resurrected. Nothing shall be lost. Life, not death, shall reign. By grace through Christ, God will do this. Therefore, let us all stand in thanksgiving, love, and awe before him.