Wednesday, May 25, 2016

First Times, Last Times and Graduation Days

I held a tiny pumpkin the day I found out I would be a grandma once again.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I've been thinking about the fact that there is a first time and a last time for everything in our lives, and how different our lives might be if we remembered that reality. For instance, yesterday I was asked at the restaurant if I qualified for a senior discount. I had only recently colored my gray and my friend even said she loved the new way I was wearing my hair. But there is no escaping the fact that each day I grow one day older, one day closer to eternity.

The other morning I was sipping my coffee and reading the Bible as my husband prepared to walk out the door for work. I was comfy where I was, but a little voice inside me told me to get up and kiss him goodbye, so I did. My neighbor told me he always kisses his wife because his relative forgot to kiss his wife one day. He was a firefighter and that day got called off to a fire. It ended up that the relative never got a chance to kiss his wife again, for he died while helping to extinguish the fire.

I have someone dear to my heart who will not speak to me. There was a day when I had my last interaction with this person. I did not know it would be my last.

I sent my father in law a homemade Veteran's Day card back in 2010. He was a widower and I felt bad for not being in closer contact with him. But I told him in that card how much we appreciated his service in Korea, and that we loved him. That card ended up being my last communication with him, for he fell off an exercise machine a few weeks later, and died immediately. There was no other chance for me to say goodbye.

Nobody knows the day they are going to die. You wake up one morning and feel great. You get in your car and go off to work, except that this is the last day that God has marked out for you. It could be any one of us, any time. Yet there is a time and season for all things, even the day we exit this planet.

 During the season of graduations, I think back to the day I graduated from high school so long ago. I have a picture with me in my gown standing between my two sisters on our front lawn. For some reason I decided to cut the picture into an oval shape and tape it onto a pink bookmark. Every day I see it as it is one of my book-markers in my Bible. We all looked so young, we had no idea of the heartaches that were yet to come in each one of our lives.

 I thought I knew so much, that I was ready to take on the world. I didn't realize that before I completed my second trimester at my college in West Virginia, I would be so homesick and scared that I would come back to Pittsburgh and enroll at the University so I could be near my sister. I always looked up to her, somehow I would feel safer if she were closer by. And so I did, thereby altering the entire course of my life.  I didn't know who I was yet, but somehow I was on the path God was preparing for me. There was  a day I shut my  high school locker for the last time, and there was a day I no longer attended college in West Virginia, but Pitt instead.

By the time I reached my college graduation,, I was already married. Six months after we married, quite close to my graduation from Pitt Nursing School, I became pregnant. I felt I let my parents down by not waiting longer to have a child, but there I was, morning sickness and all on graduation day. All the training and all the clinicals and the tests I sweated to get through, yet soon  I left all that behind to be a full time Mommy.

I hadn't planned all that out, but God knew every season in my life before I existed, just like He knows yours. Today, I would not change one bit of it. God used all these different seasons in my life to get me where I am today. I was a troubled young woman on those graduation days, but His Word in my heart can make me honestly say I am a happy woman today, in spite of the losses in my life.

There is one last Graduation Day left to come. This one will be like no other. At this one, I will stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I won't have to explain to him my sins, for He already died to put them away from my account forever. But I will have to answer for what I did with my life once I became a Christian.

It's a sobering thought. I've been given so much.
 "...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."                                  Luke 12 :48
We may think we can skate through life, but there really is a Graduation Day for the believer in Christ.

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."                              I Corinthians 3:11-15 
And so, I'm trying to be in each moment as it comes, enjoying the trip of life one moment at a time. Although I don't know the future, my Savior does. Because He lives, I have hope for each day left here on earth, and for all eternity.

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