Monday, November 10, 2008

Coming and Going

A time to be born and a time to die…

                        Ecclesiastes 3.2

For Our Time

The Bible repeatedly fills its pages with detailed pre-natal prophecies that include who the child will be, his name, his personal attributes, and how God intends to use him. Solomon, the Ecclesiastes writer, is a perfect instance of this. Before his conception, God spoke to David: “You will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest… His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.” (1 Chronicles 22.9) When He said this, Israel had endured years of relentless enemy attacks. “I plan to restore the nation’s tranquility,” God said, “and I’m sending Solomon to make it happen. I’ll place traits in him that will inspire him to accomplish what I want to do.”

It’s tempting to think of Solomon, Isaac, Jesus, and other predicted Bible babies as special cases. This offsets our modest ambitions with a notion they were born for greater responsibilities and higher purposes. Yet could it be that Scripture singles them out as examples, not exceptions? Could their stories start before birth to explain we all enter the world for a specific time and purpose? There’s a time to be born, Solomon said. Our birthdays gain significance when we believe they’re exquisitely timed to God’s plan. Nothing about us is coincidental—when we arrived, where we were placed, the gender, ethnicity, orientation, and disposition we brought into the world—nothing. God starts something the moment we’re born. He equips us, and only us, to complete what He starts. There can be little doubt we are born for our time.

The Big Appointment

Drifting off to sleep a few years ago, I was hit with the realization I will die. Obviously, I knew it all ends eventually. This went deeper than knowledge, though. It was closer to a dormant instinct that awoke for no other reason than it was time I realized death was coming—or I was headed toward it. It’s hard to describe the odd sensation of mortality unexpectedly overtaking you. It didn’t frighten me. Like all believers, I echo Paul’s sentiment that he “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5.8) But sudden awareness that my days are numbered made me, well, uneasy. Before pulling back the covers, I had all the time in the world. Moments later, I knew differently.

“Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” asks Job 7.1 (KJV). It may not make us happy, but it’s good to remember our lives carry an expiration date. Before we sink into depression because our days our limited, however, we should also remember our potential is not. Jesus said, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15.16) Instead of dreading death as an unavoidable appointment, we devote our time and energy to living productively. We bear fruit that lasts long after we leave the scene. That’s the calling we were born to answer, the work we were sent to do. “I chose you. I appointed you.” That’s the Big Appointment we want to keep.

Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days… establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90.12, 17) God ordains the time of birth and death for every person He creates. Knowing this compels us to make the most of every numbered day. We do the work. He establishes it.


God ordains when we're born and when we die according to His plan. We're called and appointed to create fruitful, enduring lives with the time He's given us.

(Tomorrow: Planting and Plucking)

No comments: