Sunday, June 14, 2009

Repost: Coming and Going

A time to be born and a time to die…

                        Ecclesiastes 3.2

For Our Time

There can be no doubt we’re born for our time. The Bible repeatedly proves this. Its pages are filled with pre-natal prophecies that forecast births in detail, including who the child will be, his name, his personal attributes, and how God intends to use him. Solomon, the Ecclesiastes writer, is a perfect example. Before his conception, God speaks 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 says this, Israel has struggled for years under relentless enemy attacks. “I plan to restore the nation’s tranquility,” God tells David, “and I’m sending your son to make it happen. I’ll place traits in his being so he’ll accomplish what I want him to do.”

It’s tempting to think of Solomon, and Isaac, Jesus, and other predicted Bible babies as special cases. This feeds the notion they were born for greater responsibilities and higher purposes than the rest of us. Yet could it be that Scripture singles them out as examples, rather than exceptions? Could their stories start before birth to explain we all come into the world for a specific time and purpose? There’s a time to be born, Solomon says. Our birthdays gain significance when we regard them as exquisitely timed to achieve 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 started something the moment you were born. He equipped you, and only you, to complete what He started.

The Big Appointment

While 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 reason other than it was time for me to realize 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 suddenly keen 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. It may not make us happy, but it’s essential to remember our lives carry an expiration date. There’s a time to die. 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 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 birth and death according to His plan for every person He creates. They’re His bookends for our lives. We create the stories that stand between them. Knowing this compels us to make the most of every numbered day.

Knowing we’re born with an expiration date drives us to make the most of every numbered day.

(Tomorrow: Planting and Plucking)

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