“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a season for each of us in our roles throughout our lifetime. After I had my baby, I remember a friend saying the days are long but the years are short. As a child, I remember my mother saying she couldn’t believe how fast time goes the older you got.
The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in these words throughout different seasons of my life. Part of this current season includes seeing my parents begin to age. I begin to feel a sense of urgency to talk to them more often, twinged with some regret from the times that I took them for granted, was too busy to pick up the phone when they would call, or laugh at their lack of ‘tech skills’. I value every conversation a bit more. A lot more really.
We know that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12). This is a key element of God’s instructions for us. I remember memorizing this for a religion test at school. These words have now become alive, have flesh on them, as I age and wish for time to now slow down so I can breathe in every experience now. As God’s children, we can ask Him to love us through these seasons and feel His grace, for every purpose under heaven. Can you ask Jesus to accompany you through your own season of life?
My 22nd wedding anniversary is coming up. We mark our time typically in the calendar year and rely on the anticipation and enjoyment of special events, special seasons and of course, anniversaries. Some of these anniversaries can be positive but some can be a reminder of sorrow or loss as well. I recently read that our physical bodies can ‘remember’ anniversaries even if we are not consciously aware. As we come up to the one year anniversary of the covid response, we may be feeling overly worn out, anxious, and overcome.
We travel through life not knowing what the future may bring. I can plan and sometimes those come to fruition, but the older I get the more I see that God’s plan is, and always has been, THE plan. Jesus is accompanying us throughout our days, our weeks, our years and beyond. Jesus knows our ‘anniversaries’ of what has been.
He walks beside us through the highs and lows of life: the celebrations (peaks) and the times of sorrow or despair (valleys). Technically, we only have the present. God has told us that He is the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Not I was. Not I will be. He is here. Now. Beside us. Let God sit with you in your own valley if that is where you are. Let him rejoice with you on the peaks. Can you feel Him now?
Recently, two close friends of mine were able to adopt a child. There was so much that went into this process but the end result made all of the work worthwhile. What an honor it has been to be an active spectator witnessing the joy, excitement, commitment, and obvious immediate love and genuine acceptance I saw in this family. It was so pure and had a holy element to it. I not only saw the couple, but countless friends, family, extended family and parish community come to celebrate the gift that this child is and would be to their family.
As I reflected on this one day, I was reminded of some scripture that speaks of us being God’s ‘adopted sons and daughters’ and the imagery made more sense to me now. We read in Ephesians Chapter 1 verse 5 that, “In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…Under this belief, we are all equals in the eyes of God and He has called us worthy.” We too, are adopted people, children of Abba Father. We are the ones who have, through no doing of our own, been accepted into the family of God, through our baptism. If we see the human excitement and celebration over this one child being adopted into a family, we cannot even fathom the joy by our Heavenly father when we ourselves were welcomed to His family.
God’s word mentions this many times, but we are reminded in Matthew 18:5 that “Whoever receives one child in my name receives me.” As an ‘adopted child’ myself, I am grateful to be so loved in my family of God.
As I sit down to write this blog post, I feel as though this, and every other thing that I am attempting to do, is akin to trying to live my daily life walking through water. Every movement seems harder and slower. Every decision seems harder and slower. Mundane tasks that would have required little to no mental effort before seems like a mountain to climb. I am here, in relative isolation of the pandemic, dealing with personal grief. Recently, my only living sibling died suddenly and this reality has hit me like a two by four, taking me out at the knees.
Most people have already or will experience this situation of a close family member dying. The reaction of friends, family and colleagues meant so much to me though – much more than I had expected. It is like feeling one hundred percent gutted and one hundred percent loved/supported all at the same time. What an odd space within which to exist. To sit with. To feel Gods’ presence in. To feel those prayers that many people have promised and offered up for my consolation. To witness in real time and space the love, service, prayers, check-ins, and food deliveries that are the working hands and feet of Jesus Christ serving me in my pain. What a gift! The words of scripture that I have read, prayed, sung, said to others are now existing within me in a palpable way: “Come to me all who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Thank you, Jesus, for letting me rest in you. Can you allow Jesus to give you a place with which to rest today?