September 25, Sunday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on July 4, 2015.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Funny But Not Really”

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

At my brother’s recent college graduation ceremony, a student from his class was chosen to give a speech, and he cheekily compared their school to an assisted living facility: All of your friends are here, everything you need is within a seven minute walk, the food is prepared for you, and eventually, everybody leaves. Some of us are going to a better place, and some of us, myself included, are stepping into the unknown… 

While the comparisons are superficially true, his remarks reminded me of when I recently visited a local nursing home, an experience that wildly clashed with my idealistic notions of life as a young adult. Inside this facility, I encountered so many people whose former lives boasted of prestigious academic degrees and military adventures; calendars brimming with social events and exciting trips. But now, at the final chapter of their lives, a communal schedule posted in the hallway suggested that the highlight of the day would be afternoon bingo and apple crisp for dessert. I conversed with a few who could talk, and it was clear that relatives seldom made visits; most of the residents spent entire days planted in the same chair by the same TV screen. I was introduced to a man who was once a successful medical doctor, but could now hardly hold a spoon to his mouth.  

As a young adult, it’s easy to dismiss mortality as a far off reality that doesn’t concern me yet.  There are too many personal and professional milestones that seem to separate me from old age and its accompanying side effects.  But rather than denying death until it comes, I’m starting to realize that a healthy acceptance of my earthly end strengthens my hope in the Father, who has promised eternal life for those who believe in His Son Jesus.  In his letter to Timothy, Paul had clearly lived his life with the end in mind; the faithfulness with which he lived his life belonged to someone who knew that his health would one day fail and his earthly accomplishments would fade, but in Christ he would have all that he needs to have true peace and joy beyond the very last day.  For Paul, there was no fear in death.  In fact, it was during his times of imprisonment, when death was a daily possibility, that he grew in boldness for the Gospel.  

The college graduate who made that comparison, though meant to be humorous, identified a tendency as humans to obliviously enjoy lives that are artificially stable and predictable. It was meant to be funny but not really so. Instead, let’s follow Paul’s example and acknowledge that life on earth is fleeting but life in Christ is eternal.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to count my days so that my remaining time here on earth can be used to extend your kingdom and glorify God.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 8

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