Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

1.29.2010

Compartmentalization versus Saturation



Wednesday night at church as we sang “Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above,” the Lord stirred my heart and the last verse struck with a deep challenge:

“Him, in Whom they move and live,
Let ev’ry creature sing,
Glory to their Maker give,
And homage to their King…
Praise the Lord in ev’ry breath,
Let all things praise the Lord.”
Praise the Lord in every breath. What a beautiful thought that has somehow become so trite.
On a good day, I spend at least 15 minutes in private devotion time with the Lord, 30 minutes in family devotion time, and about 20 minutes in overall family prayer time. This adds up to just over an hour of time with the Lord each day. Each good day.
So I will confess—I am a Christian very adept at compartmentalizing. I have heard countless times the exhortation not to be Sunday-only Christians—putting on our Christian garb Sunday morning and leaving it off all six of the other days. I hear this advice and set it aside, pleased that I at least spend time with God every day. And yet, I still compartmentalize God into one hour of my day, and what do I do with the other twenty-three? Twenty-three hours of making food, cleaning house, doing school, taking a shower, sleeping, and I have only a spotty prayer here and there to sustain me. Is this the Christian life?
I could lock my door and just read through the Psalms in a day. I could block out opportunities of service and fulfillment of responsibility and just plain taking showers so I could spend all day, every day, studying Greek. Would this solve the problem?
God didn’t command us to leave our daily drudgeries, but He did command us to saturate our day with Him. “Brother Lawrence insisted that, to be constantly aware of God’s presence, it is necessary to form the habit of continually talking with Him throughout each day. To think that we must abandon conversation with Him in order to deal with the world is erroneous.i]"
Nowhere in Ecclesiastes 3 does it say, “There is a time to worship and a time not to worship.” Instead, Revelation 4:8 speaks of the four living creatures who “do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’”
Compartmentalization is the enemy of worship. Dedicating a time to spend with the Lord is necessary, commanded (Daniel 6:10), and wonderfully beneficial. Thinking, however, as I often do, that that is all that is necessary, will bring staleness to your Christian life. Instead, we need to let that morning time with the Lord saturate our entire day and say with David, “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. (Psalm 104:33)”
A.W. Tozer wrote of the importance of worship,
Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp. I put more strings on your instrument and I have given you a wider range than I have given to any other creature. You can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can.” And when he sinned man took that instrument and threw it down in the mud and there it has lain for centuries, rusted, broken, unstrung; and man, instead of playing a harp like the angels and seeking to worship God in all of his activities, is ego-centered and turns in on himself and sulks and swears and laughs and sings, but it’s all without joy and without worship….Worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism. We’re organized; we work; we have our agendas. We have almost everything, but there’s one thing that the churches, even the gospel churches, do not have: that is the ability to worship. We are not cultivating the art of worship. It’s the one shining gem that is lost to the modern church, and I believe that we ought to search for this until we find it.[ii]
This gem is the one I am going to seek after in my busy day ahead today. It may be difficult, but worship is not about entertaining me--it is about glorifying God. So in the quiet moments, when I’m transporting siblings to and fro, I’m going to revel in our great God. In the loud moments when everyone is clamoring for attention, I’m going to praise Him with every breath I take. In the stressful moments and the joyful ones, the high praises of God will be in my mouth, and a two-edged sword in my hand (Psalm 149:6). With my mind focused on Jesus, Satan will surely be ineffectual today, and God will be glorified. The compartments have to go, for Jesus must permeate, infiltrate, infuse, and saturate my thoughts, words, attitudes, expressions, moments, and seconds. My every breath must praise Him.
Let this be Jesus’ day.


[i] Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 12
[ii] A.W. Tozer, Worship, pp. 12, 23-24.

1.26.2010

They Didn't Know They Were Patriots


Imagine for a moment that, in the heat of hearing a moving speech, you signed on to serve in the US Army. Whether or not you actually believe the war is right or just, you certainly aren’t passionate or devoted to the cause. In fact, you are in the ranks because you desired adventure and good pay just as much as you possess patriotism, bravery, and compassion. Soon, however, things take a turn that tests your mettle. The army goes bankrupt and, without the ability to hire reinforcements, is soon outnumbered and in a dangerous predicament. Moreover, you have not been paid in months, and your enlistment time is nearly up. Your general spends hours preaching and begging and imploring you to find your patriotism and stay on. How can you, though? Your wife and children are home starving because you have not seen a paycheck in ages. Your new baby is going to be born any day now. You yourself are gaunt, weak, and shabbily clothed, with some of your friends even going without shoes. Epidemics are raging through the camp, so that if the enemy doesn’t get you, you are sure that the sickness will! And remember how this was a cause you were apathetic about? It sounded good at the time, but is it really worth such sacrifice and hardship? Is it worth death?

And so, with half the army’s enlistments up, the soldiers decide the cause is not worth such sacrifice and walk away unapologetically, despite the fact that the enemy looms only two hours away. You, however, must wait another month for your term to expire. One of your friends makes his decision and writes home to his fiancĂ© to say of the general, “I cannot desert a man (and it would certainly be desertion in a court of honor) who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that a large part of it wants spirit to defend itself.[1]” And yet you are still not sure if you are with your leader, or with the large part that wants spirit to defend itself.

And then comes the battle—the horrible, awful battle—in which several of your friends freeze to death while marching alongside you in the bitter cold. Like flowing water that is not supposed to freeze, their blood moved slower and slower until it moved no more. You win—the first win in months! But at what cost? Who really believes the illusion that this war can be won?

Now you stand at attention with your fellow soldiers. The rest of the army’s enlistments are up tomorrow—and everyone’s jaw is set. You listen graciously to the emotional appeal. But when the drums roll and the general asks for volunteers to step forward, not a single person twitches. Everyone is firm in their determination to end this misery. If that means surrender, then so be it!

The general, looking suddenly tired and gray, speaks over the ominous drumroll and the indomitable men. “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.[2]

And then, furious at yourself for being so weak, you finally step forward with thousands of other unsure men. You have never recited the pledge of allegiance—you have never sung the Star-Spangled Banner—you have never memorized the 50 states—you have never marched on the Capitol Mall in protest—the Declaration of Independence scared you stiff—and you would mock the man who called you what we fondly term a “patriot.” Yet the balance of a nation rests on your shoulders.

So make up your mind! Yes, “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country…” Yes, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.[3]

Someday, you will look back and recognize that, “The war was a longer, far more arduous, and more painful struggle than later generations would understand or sufficiently appreciate….Especially for those who had been with Washington and who knew what a close call it was at the beginning—how often circumstance, storms, contrary winds, the oddities or strengths of individual character had made the difference—the outcome seemed little short of a miracle.[4]” Providence guided you soldiers that day to step forward; Providence guided your leader, General George Washington; and Providence preserved the thirteen colonies. Providence used you.

They didn't know they were patriots...yet.

Are you a sunshine patriot or a monsoon survivor?



Inspired by 1776 by David McCullough, which tells the story of that first fateful year of the War for Independence in a masterful, suspenseful, and scholarly way. Put this book on your reading list! If you, like me, feel called to action after being reminded of our forefather’s selfless sacrifice, please read the “Alert” at the top of the sidebar on the right for just one of the pressing crises facing our nation today.

[1] William Tudor to Delia Jarvis, December 24, 1776, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Mass.

[2] George Washington, as recorded by Sergeant R----, “Battle of Princeton,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XX (1896), 515-516

[3] Thomas Paine, The Crisis, 1776

[4] David McCullough, 1776, "Chapter 7: Darkest Hour", page 294

1.22.2010

We Marched

We came from across the state and just down the street. We overflowed the parking lots until there were no spaces left. We rallied around the Winged Victory monument until there was no grass to be seen.

We met old friends and made new ones, finally meeting Keilah and her wonderful family and Luanne from blogland--united by our common goal--to take a stand for life.

And we marched. Not for ourselves, but for the more than 50,000,000 babies who will never march.


We streamed around our very capitol building, decrying the murder it endorses and ignores.

We made our way past a few young girls with oldness in their faces who claimed the right to murder their own children. A young boy turned, confused, to his mother, and asked, "Why?"
"Because they don't want to be inconvenienced," she said. "Children are a lot of work." And as the eyes of her innocent son met hers, she smiled at him with love.


For the 32nd time, we tread the sidewalks of Olympia and marched silently onto the steps, slowly but surely filling them. The noise that drowned out all others was the solemn chant: "L-I-F-E: Life!"

7,000 people joined with us, and we distributed signs until there were no more, shouted until our throats were sore, clapped until our hands were chapped, and even cried for the babies who cry no more.
Roe v. Wade was 37 years ago today, and every year people march and mourn and declare that this must be changed, for the sake of the babies who will die this year. And yet there is no change. Satan is still stalwart in his destruction of God's gift. I pray that in 2110 my children will not have to march on the capitol to call for murder to stop, for I pray that our generation will be the force of God's change, right now. I pray that this will be the last time, but until it is, we will march, and we will act.

And so, for the more than 50,000,000 babies...

For the mothers of those more than 50,000,000 babies...

For the fathers of those more than 50,000,000 babies...


For the children who were never born because their parents would have been those more than 50,000,000 murdered babies...


For the more than 1,370,000 babies who will be murdered this year in the US alone...

For the approximately 3,700 babies whose life will end in the US today from abortion...

...we march for you.


1.19.2010

World, Meet Heritage Bible

Heritage Bible Church, February, 2007, on the deck of the home we met in.

Along one's Christian path are bound to be several churches that have a special place in your heart. They fed you, they challenged you, they involved you, they supported you, and they pointed you to God. However, even amongst these highlights in your memory, a truly likeminded church is a rarity. For me, a "likeminded church" means one that is family-integrated, supports homeschooling, worships with Godly music, encourages women to be keepers at home, and challenges the men to lead in their home and church. Tall order, huh? We thought so--until God led our family and a core group of several other families to start a church almost four years ago.

Come on, guys, organize yourselves!


Heritage Bible Church, January 2010, on the steps of the building we meet in.

Since then, we have grown spiritually and in numbers. We have watched with elation as the men step up to lead and preach, and as God has directed the writing of our statement of faith, constitution, and formation of an elder-led, elder-taught congregation. We have stood in awe of Providence when we happened to be "in the right place at the right time" to rent a church building standing empty on Sunday mornings. And we have endeavored every Sunday morning to encourage each other to live every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the glory of God and the fulfillment of our theme verse:

"We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done (Psalms 78:4)."

World, meet Heritage Bible Church. We are small, but we are devoted to our God, and like Gideon's army of old, we will make a big difference.

1.15.2010

A Life Changed

I remember the day as clearly as if it was January 14, 2010, but it was not—it was April 10, 1995, and I was several feet shorter. My parents were Christians—strong, growing, church-attending Christians, and up until that day I had never really considered whether or not I was a Christian. And then, the weekend before Easter, Mama and Mikaela and I were riding in the back of the car to my uncle’s house, cuddled up after a long day of running through the fields of tulips in Skagit Valley. And in God's providence, Mama asked the question that changed my life: “Are you a Christian?”
I remember that I practically opened my mouth to say yes, and I recall that before I could speak, through my mind flashed all of my four and a half-year old sins, mainly in the form of meanness to my sisters. In an instant, I knew that if I was being honest with myself, I could not be a Christian, and I realized that I had never accepted Christ into my heart. So there, in the back of the car, I prayed with Mama. I do not remember the words of the prayer, I did not suddenly become angelic, and I certainly did not fly into the air, but I was floating all the same. The car had no sooner stopped than I was out of it and racing into my uncle’s house to find someone-anyone-to share my thrilling news with: Jesus came into my heart today, and He has forgiven my sins! In the one sad moment of the day, everyone was busy, and I had to wait excruciating minutes to share my salvation. In those moments, I could have certainly put to use (at the top of my lungs) Charles Wesley’s 18-stanza “For the Anniversary Day of One’s Conversion”, for that joy was mine—“Sudden expired the legal strife, 'twas then I ceased to grieve; my second, real, living life I then began to live…Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!”
Eight years ago, January 2002, I was definitely a seven-year old Christian, but I was still a child spiritually. I was growing up and just starting to mature as a person, and I was about to mature spiritually as well. I was fighting the same battles, living the same mistakes, and ignoring the same convictions day after day. Slowly, though, I began to get uncomfortable with my status quo and, according to my journal, I was convicted of a host of sins—stealing, wrong thoughts, selfishness, and anger. This was the point in my Christian life where I stood before a fork in the road: one path provided cotton for my ears and a blindfold for my eyes and promised that if I said no to God now, I would never have to say yes to Him again. The other path of recommiting myself to Christ prospected pain, humiliation, and Godly sorrow, but it offered Jesus as my traveling companion and joy as my reward. I chose the other path. From that moment, I made my relationship with Jesus my priority—I confessed my sins, made them right, listened to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and began a steady quiet time with God. What did God use for this honest revelation? Ester Ried, Scripture, Lew Sterrett’s “Sermon on the Mount”, and my pastor were all instrumental in causing me to recommit my life to the Lord. One of my favorite passages became Hebrews 10:36-39:

"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
I was excited for God! I was on fire, joyful, and victorious. As a public declaration of my faith in Christ and His saving work in my life, I was baptized in the (cold and dirty :-) Columbia River on June 13, 2004. That was a precious day, and my spiritual walk had never been better. In fact, my most cherished desire was to be a missionary. However, I had yet to learn a little lesson called God’s will.
When I was about fourteen, I was ready to learn a foreign language, get the ball rolling, and prepare to head out on my own to a foreign mission-field. And that was when I ran headlong into the will of God, in the form of long conversations with my parents. In their wisdom and the providence of God, they were thrilled that I wanted to share the Gospel with others, but they strongly believed that it was not God’s best for me to be a missionary as a single young woman, for I would be out from under their authority and protection. Tears flowed, frustration filled me, and I spent many hours praying for God to change their minds. It wasn’t until I actually prayed that God’s will be done that I decided to submit my plans for my life to Him. This I described as “torturous” at the time, but I comforted myself that it was simply the death of a vision. And so I submitted. Miraculously, God miraculously got through my hard-headedness (-: and in that submission gradually came comprehension and wisdom. It was when I was about fifteen that I truly grasped the wisdom of my parents and committed myself to being a missionary right here in my parents’ ministry, where I can do so much more with my unified family than I ever could on my own!
So here I am—a filthy, wretched sinner, saved by the grace of God. I am nothing—but I am a child of God. I still sin—but sin is not my master. I am weak—but I love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I have many lessons yet to learn—but I have learned so many the hard way already. I am walking the narrow path under the sun of God’s love, and I want to know who my travelling companions are. Are you walking the narrow way?

1.12.2010

My Pleasure

“Most of them want to come for reasons other than serving or helping, so I require something of them. Those kids have money to burn and closets full of designer clothes!” I overheard a friend talking about his ministry to the homeless in Portland, OR. Of course, my conscience contentedly patted me on the back—I had gone to help him this past fall, doling out hot breakfast, warm clothes, hygiene essentials, encouraging words, and friendly smiles for four hours in the pouring rain.

My friend, however, wasn’t done. “So, there’s a few junior-highers that still come every month. And you know what they say to me when we’re done? ‘I had fun.’ And I think, ‘I didn’t bring you out here to have fun! I didn’t want you to have fun! Tell me you were shocked or humbled or embarrassed—but don’t tell me you had fun!’” He paused a moment to consider. “Maybe these kids can’t be shocked anymore…maybe ‘I had fun’ is the only way they can express themselves.”

I moved on, but my thoughts stayed on this conversation. I could have just as easily been one of those flippant teenagers saying, “Thanks! Watching five year old homeless boys come out of the woodwork to get a hot meal was fun! I had a great time!” In fact, I could remember many serving opportunities I had judged by the measure of enjoyment they provided.

We insincerely say “it was my pleasure” as if our entertainment is the highest compliment we can pay to another human being, when it is often just an indicator of our sinful hearts. In this egotistical, self-centered, instant-gratification society of ours, we seek one thing above all others: amusement. The US spent $10,632,527,005[1] (yes, that’s BILLION) on movie tickets alone in 2009—and that doesn’t even begin to include the total entertainment budget. As the world becomes increasingly humanistic and men fall on their faces in awe and worship of themselves, the highest fulfillment—the greatest compliment—the most rewarding purpose has become fun. We are becoming “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (II Timothy 3:4).”

A commercial I recently saw was advertising a website with thousands of movies available for instant streaming. “In fact,” the geeky guy exclaimed as he touted his company, “It would take you an entire year to watch all of the titles we have available!” Then he got a dreamy, far-away look in his eyes (or maybe it was just a dumb, idle stupidity—I couldn’t tell). “That would be the best year of my life.” Everyday, men and women pursue the fleeting sensation of fun—and this cotton-candy-like experience claims costly, nonrefundable hours of one’s time. Time, though, is pocket change compared to what many people sell to fuel their addiction: their souls.

So what is a Christian to do? Shun all movies? Live like a medieval monk? Read only the Scripture? Boycott Monopoly? Ultimately, of course, we must come to terms with Hebrews 11:25: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” John Piper offers a practical and sobering suggestion too: "think about your death. Think about your death a lot....I think about the impact of death, and what I would like to be found doing, and how I would prepare to meet him and give an account to him (see the endnote to read his excellent article in its entirety).[2]" When we have chosen to suffer with God’s people and shun sinful amusement, then we can enjoy a balanced diet of wholesome “fun.” Psalms 35:27 says, “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”

However, may we remember in all our doings and prosperity to say first and foremost, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelations 4:11).” Therefore, the next time you go out to brighten your corner, consider changing your typical “Oh—it was my pleasure!” to something more profound and honest. It’s not all about you, and it’s not all about fun, but it certainly is all about God.

1.08.2010

Time to Face the Music

Here you are...the long-awaited, much-dreaded, requested-by-few video clips of our family making music together!
The first video was taken just a few months ago when our family did a program for a local senior group and retirement home. We had so much fun playing for those lovely people, and here is just one of the pieces we did--"Fairest Lord Jesus" played by our quintet. Admittedly, it is far from perfect, but we have an amazing 10 year old cellist (Micah) and a 12 year old violinist (Susanna) who even claims the melody for a while, not to mention us old people, including Melanie on the piano. (-: Mikaela, sadly, is cut out of the video, but you can hear her beautiful first violin part nonetheless. Enjoy!
video
This second video is from a benefit concert Mikaela and I did for our local Caring Pregnancy Center almost a year ago. That was such an amazing experience...I can't believe it's been a year already! The video quality on this is not great (I look like a ghost, but believe me, I was live and well!), but the audio is fine--as if it could be otherwise with that grand piano! Mikaela begins the clip with an introduction, and because of the low audio volume for the words you will probably need headphones to hear that part. However, if you don't have time for this interesting but lengthy history on "Morning Has Broken", skip to about 1:45 on the video.
video

1.05.2010

Lord, Let Me Declare

On my nightstand, one book has had the place of honor for a decade. This book, which began life as a charming black-covered creation with vivid red corners, is now a shabby stack of over 200 bound papers. The cover is long gone, the edges are curling, and the first ten pages have escaped the binding. This book, you see, began in the ninth year of my life, is my journal. Her name is Louisa, and here I offer you a look at my life through the last decade, complete with authentic spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors (oh, my!).


January 1, 2000, 12:00 AMHappy Year 2000, Happy Millinium!!!! Happy Century!
Nothings happening. What I mean is, the lights are on and everything!!!
I feel…joyous!!

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2000The Bird-duck is gone. Lauren brought it outside to play. A cat—Tigger actually—scared duck into the bushes. We’ve been looking for duck all evening. But I yielded duck to God. It’s God’s duck. And this is hard to say, even if God wants duck to die—that, that is alright.

Saturday, June 9th, 2001…When Papa came home…he had a surprise for us—and it’s better than a birthday—the strike is OVER! I want to shout, to tell the world! Praise the Lord! So we’ve been enjoying our Papa for the week!

Sunday, February 3, 2002So that my children will always know when I lost my last tooth!
I ask Mama and Papa when they lost there last tooth—same answer—“I don’t know.”
So I will always remember.
“I was 11, it was February the third, I was eating a carrot.” =)

Friday, May 10th, 2002It’s born! It’s born!! Can you believe it? HE’S born! Jonah Adam (? They’re not sure about the middle name). He’s 6 lbs 15oz and 19”. Sounds small!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2003I am quite disappointed with myself. I am horrid. And I don’t mean to give you the same old self-pitying ‘sob story.’ My main faults are 1. Lack of serving, 2. Lack of humbleness (i.e. pride, but ever so much more than that, like lack of respect etc, etc.) I am also extraordinarily bossy. It’s to bad you are not ‘real.’ If you were I would be begging you to pray for me! That is the only hope….

Sunday, May 4th, 2003On Thursday we left for Spokane. Today we ran in Bloomsday! All year we’ve been training for it. It has about 60,000 people who run in the race…It is 7 ½ miles (12 kilometers) long and has “Doomsday” hill, which is a rather long steep hill. My time was 1 hour, 17 min and 56 seconds. We arrived 1 hour and 15 minutes before it started. It was cold, especially since we only had shorts and t-shirts on. To entertain themselves, people were bouncing balls in the air. Then they used tortillas!

Saturday, May 1st, 2004I was thinking; why do I keep a journal? Well for one thing it is to record my growth in the Lord.
The main second reason is for my kids....It is my proof. I was a kid once to, with kid-struggles and kid-problems. Not only that, but I have lived through once-in-a-lifetime events (i.e. September 11 etc).
If my kids are ever reading this then I want to tell them something. I am only 13; perhaps your age. Only a kid; just like you…And across the decades that separate my childhood and yours—Jesus is the only way. Give him everything. Especially your conscience. After reading this, you must know that that is my biggest struggle. Remember that if you are ever convicted to confess something.
(Was that corny?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006Tonight was Philharmonic practice. Last week was chair tests, and I kept my principal second violin place! I’m really excited, and I think that the leadership position has really helped my playing and my confidence. Also, I’m really enjoying taking lessons from ---. Now, the only thing I need to complete my “musical bliss” is some music students. That would be a dream come true.

Thursday, April 6, 2006…at the funeral today, someone….[read] a verse that she said Aunt Ina quoted; my eyes filled with tears when I heard it, and I resolved right then and there that that verse would be my life verse. Lauren just let me borrow her Bible, and I looked it up, so here it is:
“Oh God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” Psalm 71:17-18

Saturday, Aug 15, 2009So another year has passed and it seems that I am suddenly and inexplicably nineteen years old….And then I realize that, in the blink of an eye, I will be gone. And you, dear reader, may be my daughter or son, my grandchild, or even my greatgrandchild, wondering at the impossibility of me being 19 with the same struggles, hopes, and dreams that you
have.
Happy Birthday—and don’t take any of it for granted.


And there you have it. As of January 1st, 2010, 2:13 AM, I finally finished this book. She will live out the rest of her life in leisure while I turn to a new, slick, leather-bound, slim volume that's been waiting patiently for several years. Somehow, though, it just won't be quite the same.
Do you keep a journal? Have you ever kept one in the past? When I first began mine, I remember modeling it after those of the great men and women of faith, such as David Brainerd, whose personal accounts still inspire and convict centuries later. I certainly knew that I wanted my journal to have no resemblance to a catty, secretive, tell-all "diary." If you do write, are your purposes the same as this and the ones I mentioned in the entries above?

1.01.2010

Time and Eternity

Skype?
"Correspondence Cinema" One of the pictures in the collection Vision of 2000 by a French artist in 1910

How time flies.
Ten years ago I was nine—a precocious, toothless, pigtailed youngin’. I thought I was very wise and very old, and I vowed that when I someday morphed into an adult I would be the ultimate one—the half-adult, half-child, bettered by my own nine-year old ideals. I’m not sure how that is going, for I stretch my brain to even remember that far back and, try as I might, I can hardly remember my nine-year-old thoughts and plans.
How time flies.
Ten years ago, we were toasting the millennium, wondering if the whole world would crash and burn the moment the “1999” slid into “2000.” Unfortunately, living in Pacific Time, we got a head’s up from the East coast that nothing would happen. They would spoil our fun. Ten years ago, September 11th was just a day like any other, Bush was running for president, I was just getting interested in politics, Jonah wasn't even born, and Great-Grandma was still alive. In 2000, there were less than 100,000 blogs, and now there are 133 million. In 2000, only 10% of households owned a digital camera, but now at least 68.4% can claim that bit of technology. I was in 4th grade learning multiplication tables and how to write a persuasive essay and now I’m beginning another semester in college. I’m going to be presumptuous and note that in ten more years, I will be a very ancient 29 year old, and I could be married with twelve children (twins and triplets could accomplish this), or I could be in Timbuktu, or I could be still typing away in this same room, busy as ever.
Here’s the conundrum: in year 2000, I imagined and forecasted 2010. I knew I would be an elderly 19, and I knew I would be out of high school. I knew I would have lived ten years of life in between, and I knew great change would come. Why then does it surprise me? Why do we say “How time flies” when it continues at a steady, 60 second per minute pace? Why are we shocked when little ones grow up and old ones die? This has been happening for thousands of years—you would think we would be used to it by now. “Oh, of course you grew five inches—you’re of that age.” Or how about, “Yes, of course he died—he was old, after all.”
Why is the passage of time so shocking to us?
Because God has put eternity in our hearts.
Yes, God created time for our humanity, but He created eternity for our reward. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted…A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance...I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Eccl. 3:1-2, 4, 10-11)”
God is not constrained by time, as Psalm 90:4 so beautifully illustrates: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” Therefore, God created time for us, for He knew that our weak, imperfect minds could not comprehend eternity nor could our weak selves live long without feeling that, in our living, something was passing and being accomplished. Living in eternity with our sin natures would become a cage without bars to grip—a jail that was endless and horizon less. And so He gave us time.
Yet, ever unsatisfied, time is still our cage, for we do have eternity in our hearts. We are made for eternity, and the passage of time is as frustrating as it is necessary. It was into this world of yearning and dissatisfaction that Jesus came, offering the most precious of all gifts, the bewildering gem of eternal life, to people who continually beat their heads against the restraints of time. Time is to us an enemy, and Jesus’ sacrifice conquers sin, death, and time and offers us eternity with Him! Those who glance at the gift and turn away will still experience eternity: an eternity of excruciating, mind-numbing pain and fire and misery.
But for those that are believers in Christ, eternity will no longer be a cage, and we will be free of time. We will spend blissful millennia upon millennia in the presence of our beautiful Savior, and joy will bubble over like we cannot even imagine. Time will be forgotten, calendar-makers will be out of business, New Years will pass unmarked, and we will finally know the fulfillment of all that God created us for.
In the meantime, we still celebrate every New Year as a fascinating occurrence and still marvel that the sun will set so soon tonight and that in a few days Monday will come yet again. But in fewer days than I care to imagine, we all will be in nursing homes, and then I will enter, wonderingly, through the gates of heaven and the gates of eternity. It will be then that time will simply take wing and fly off altogether. And after that, shall we spend eternity together?

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