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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Such a little way to go!

The knowledge that circumstances are only temporary can be very helpful. This is illustrated by the story of a girl - we'll call her Mary - who told of the exasperating time she had experienced on a bus. "A big lady came and sat next to me," she said, "taking up so much room that she forced me right against the side of the bus. To make things worse, the parcels she was carrying kept bumping me in the face, and I had to keep dodging them!" Her young brother asked a not unreasonable question: "Why didn't you tell her to move over? After all, you were there first!" Mary replied, with a wisdom beyond her years: "I didn't think that it was worthwhile. After all, we had such a little way to go together!"

The psalmist-king of Israel, David, was very conscious of that same truth when he offered the prayer recorded in I Chronicles 29.  By this time, he was about 70 years of age - something to which I can all-too-readily relate! - and had many memories of successes - and of failures; of joys - and of sorrows. But, as he prayed, he expressed his deep impression of the very brevity of life: "We are only strangers traveling through this world like our ancestors. Our time on earth is like a passing shadow, and we cannot stop it." (v.15; ERV). I am sure that, if that famous figure of old; that man described by God, in spite of all of his failures, as "... a man after My own heart;" (Acts 13:22), could have lived some segments of his life over again, he would have made different decisions, and conducted himself differently! He would have been more pure; more forgiving; more godly; less concerned with worldly achievements; with sensual pleasures; with the petty trivialities over which people quarrel. 

It was reported, today, in a newspapers, that "SCIENTISTS believe man is on the brink of having an average lifespan of 120 years after major medical breakthroughs." (Daily Express). However, even that is but a moment in comparison with eternity! We should, therefore, place the highest value on spiritual realities. My current "computer wallpaper" reminds me of "... the fruit of the Spirit ..." - "... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;" (Gal.5:22). These are the attributes that we should seek to cultivate in our relationships with others. Remember, we have such a little way to go together!

I also received the following in a regular e-mail, today: "“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.” (Luke 16:22)
Many scholars believe that the episode reported in Luke 16:19-31 actually happened, that it is a true story. If it is a parable, it is not identified as such, and it is the only one in which the name of a participant is given. Christ related the story as if it were true. But whether history or parable, we can learn much from the contrast between these two dramatically different men, their deaths and destinies.
The rich man, of course, surrounded himself with luxury (v. 19) while Lazarus struggled each day just to survive until the next poverty-filled and pain-wracked day (vv. 20-21).
No one can escape the grave, however, and in the passage of time, both died. But, rather than reducing those two different individuals to the commonality of death, their differences actually are heightened. The rich man, “being in torment” (v. 23), was aware of the comfort of Lazarus in “Abraham’s bosom” (v. 22). The interchange between the rich man and Abraham, and the timeless instruction Christ gave, are well known.
Note also the contrast between “carried” and “buried” in our text. The beggar’s body was no doubt unceremoniously dumped into a pauper’s grave, while the rich man’s corpse was placed in a costly sepulchre and his funeral attended by many friends and mourners. But look beyond the earthly spectrum. While the rich man begs for mercy and relief from torment, the poor man’s eternal spirit is “carried” (literally “carried off” or “borne away”) by a convoy of angelic beings into the presence of God, where “now he is comforted” (v. 25). For Lazarus, and indeed for all who die in the Lord, “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54)."

Time, someone has said, is too precious to be spent; it must be well invested! How are you investing your time - today?!

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