To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Our home/sending church is trying something a little different this summer for adult Sunday School... and we were privileged to participate, for a few weeks. Instead of keeping with our regular Sunday School class, different teachers chose different topics they wanted to study for 8 weeks. Then members of the congregation picked the class they wanted to attend... and it was, we thought, a nice way to mix up our church population a bit as well as hear from some different folks.
The class that Tim and I chose to attend was called "Accountable to God," considering stewardship... in all areas of our life... of ALL of our very lives. Our last Sunday, the lesson revolved around the topic of redeeming the time that we've been given by God for His purposes and His glory... and class began by looking at the familiar words of Ecclesiastes 3, and how there is a "schedule" to our life... a time to be born, a time of opportunity and a time to die. One key thought was that because of this "schedule," we must be intentional about making God's priorities our priorities during the window of opportunity we have between birth and death.
Great reminder... It is one of those thoughts that needs to be repeated over and over because an opportunity past is an opportunity lost. Time not redeemed cannot be recovered. However, the Holy Spirit had more that He wanted to show me... and I've been meditating on this a lot lately (especially of early of the morning, listening to the call to prayer and kneading our bread for the day...) Yes, there is one appointed time for a man to die and after that the judgment. But God also gives us more moments to die than we can count in the course of our lifetimes. I've been considering the words below from the perspective of what it would look like, what it would mean to die to me, each moment of each day so that I could actually live in Christ, for Christ and Christ alone:
- "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus Who...being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death..." (Phil 2. 5,6,8)
- "...I die daily... (1 Cor 15.31b)
- "... that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die" (1 Cor 15.36)
- "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor 15.55-58)
- "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us... Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us..." (2 Cor 4.7, 10-12)
- "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Rom 12.1,2)
And these are just a few of the verses to which the Lord has led me as I've mulled over and prayed through this idea:
My time to die is now, this moment...
and again, the following moment...
and again, the next...
and so on...
...to chose God and His way by dying to myself and my ways, choices, preferences... one of those things that is relatively easy to say or write, but very, very hard ~ impossible ~ to do minus the grace, mercy and power of God in my life. It adds depth and a new perspective to the words of Paul, "For me, to live is Christ; to die is gain." Although impossible in my own strength, I can have hope for "some day," because of Christ's words: "...he who believes in Me will live even if He die," (John 12.25) and begin trying to make that choice... once opportunity at a time. Could there be any better way to live redeeming the time ~ than choosing to" die to self" time after time after time..., every time?
"But in all things approving [myself] as a minister of God...as dying, and, behold, I live..." (2 Cor 6.4,9)