Last month our family had the pleasure of spending some time in Florida for my sisters wedding.
It was good to see all of my family again and how time has grown us all. It was the first visit to my grandparent’s house that made me reflect on the subject of this post. I had gone over to their house with Charlie (3) and Audrey (almost 2) to say hello. Of course, my grandmother was very pleased to see us. My grandfather, who is mostly bedridden wasn’t particularly sure of who the guests were that interrupted his program on TV. I could not help but look at him and think of the energetic, hard-working man I remembered him to be. He was in his 70’s when I was in my teens and at that time he could work circles around me in the scorching Amazon sun.
Yet things had changed. I looked over at the kids. Audrey was playing on the Pergo wood floor with some toy cars and trucks. She had so much life inside of her, and so much ahead of her: so many choices that she would make, and so many things that would come her way because of choices made by others. It was such a stark contrast, and I began to think about my time on this earth. One day I will be feeble and old, or just plain gone. The first 30 years have flown by, and so will the last.
As a result of this very obvious, yet profound and sober thought I began to consider two things. I first began to consider the importance of a moment: how the whole of our lives are a string of moments each affecting the next, that if we do not live as such, our lives may simply pass us by. And in the end it may even seem that we had but a moment to live. If I believe that there is a purpose for living, one that is beyond myself, one that extends to the heavens, then this is what every moment must be for. But sometimes the battle seems so overwhelming. It was that thought that took me to Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to the somber conversation of Gandalf and Frodo in the dark, damp mines under the misty mountains of Middle Earth.
Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish that none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world besides those of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
It was these wise words of Gandalf the wizard that guided my thoughts to the smallness of myself in the greater story of man. Throughout history God has been weaving a tapestry that displays the beauty and splendor of His glory and I am but a minute thread of the whole. We may make plans to change the world and make a difference, to be the catalyst for a worldwide revolution or to be the one that turns the tides. There is nothing wrong with any of that, but when you consider the whole, you begin to realize life is much bigger and you are much smaller. The words of Gandalf ring true; we must simply be faithful with the time that is given to us.
It is a bit shocking when you read the New Testament and see that some of the great men like John the Baptist and James, who had incredible ministries, were never mentioned again after they died a martyr’s death. It is like they vanished from the story. But there was one Man who did not. He too died a martyr’s death, but then became the central theme not only in the New Testament, but in the whole story of man. He was the One who turned the tides, who made the difference and began a revolution that has, is and will change this world. The life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior is what God’s tapestry is all about. There are more than merely forces at work here. There is a God at work in this world, a God who is much greater than all of the forces of evil. You were meant to be here in this time and this place just as I was meant to be here. And that is an encouraging thought.