Tag Archive: life


Our 20 Seconds: Making Sense of Evil

As this Thanksgiving holiday nears, we are exhorted to be thankful for the blessings we have. But how can we be thankful when we see and face so much unfairness and evil in life? Can we understand this crazy world, let alone be thankful?

Reading Maus, a serious comic about the Holocaust, and watching the famous, based-on-life WWII miniseries Band of Brothers brought similar feelings to me. The Holocaust suddenly wasn’t just a word, but a real horror done by unspeakably evil men to normal people. This evil haunted me for hours as I walked outside in the beauty of a woodland’s autumn morning, my mind unable to concentrate on normal activities because I just couldn’t stop thinking of those Jews. Some had their skulls crushed in the gas chambers as they piled against the doorway, trying in vain to get out. Others broke their fingers climbing the walls. As I walked numbed in the horror, I felt both thankfulness and humility.

Why thankfulness? Because the problems in my life suddenly seemed vaporously trivial in comparison. The disagreements, discomforts – all seemed like nothing. How can I complain in anything? My grandparents were soon coming up, and we were worried that we did not have enough beds. My sister had suggested that the both of us sleep in our truck’s seats. The crazy idea suddenly became noble: Why worry about a slight inconvenience, when others have endured and survived so much more?

Why humility? I like to find a reason behind everything, and evil’s no exception. In history, the Holocaust actually had the effect of helping bring God’s people the Jews into Israel, their Promised Land, just as God had prophesied hundreds of years ago in the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures. He promised in Deuteronomy 30:2-3 that He would bring Israel back to the land even after they were scattered and persecuted throughout the world, and careful study of Ezekiel 4:3-6 shows that God prophesied 1948 as the date of Israel’s return (The Signature of God by Grant Jeffrey). God had turned around evil for good.

Yet despite these clear workings of God’s hand in the grand scheme, I strained to see His purposes within the microcosm of the concentration camps. Why were these Jews suffering so, so much, with no hope? The magnitude of this event hushed my mind into silent, awe-struck humbleness. Surely I cannot know the purposes of God in the ways of life. Life is so complex, so mysterious, it defies figuring out. I thought of the 6 billion people living life on this planet, in one year out of thousands of years in history, and I felt small. And awe-inspired.

How can I know what this is, this life? My life is short and insignificant. Who will know me when I am gone? Who will know I ever lived? I cannot even fathom what a billion people look like – the 6,000 stars visible to the naked eye are already too many for me to count. Yet all these billions have lives just like me. It suddenly felt breathtaking, to be so small and know so little. How little we know about life. What a mystery we live each day, not knowing what is happening a few feet away from us in the next house. Not knowing when we will die, who we will meet, or what lessons our lives will teach.

Someone may blame God for the evil that happens in life. But we are like children, and He is our Father. What does a child think when he is punished with time-out? When he is forced to do homework rather than play with his friends? Either the child will hate his father or trust that his father knows best, even when the child cannot understand why. How can the child know homework will help him prepare for college and for the workforce to raise a family, years beyond his present time? Such things seem too far away, yet they are in reality too wonderful for the child and beyond his comprehension. So it is with evil. Either you will hate God or trust Him despite not knowing every reason why. A God who can create the intricacies of DNA can certainly have a purpose for every evil, yet I do not know how He fashioned DNA nor how He will fix every wrong. I can only trust Him as a child trusts his father.

Yet even fathers have mercy on their children. Sometime after I read the horrors of the Holocaust in Maus, I watched an episode of Band of Brothers, “Why We Fight.” The Americans were occupying Germany in its waning days and wondering why they had their lives turned upside down just to fight these people. Comrades had died, wives back home grew cold, and lives were marred in disillusionment with the evils of war. Why where they here?

Yet a horrifying discovery in the forest answered their quest for meaning. A patrol found a concentration camp. Such things had only been rumors before, but now the full force of German evil became plain as the American soldiers stepped into a camp of pale, emaciated bodies barely grasping life within their barred prison rags. Lying on the ground were dead bodies so thin their skin outlined only a skeleton almost unrecognizable as human.

As the dazed Americans mingled among them, these gaunt figures reached out their hands and grasped a soldier’s sleeve, like the woman of old seeking healing with a touch of Jesus’ hem. One man brought his dead wife or daughter to the Americans’ feet. Another man saluted the soldiers. They gathered around the Americans like they were saviors. They were.

I cried. Suddenly I realized that these people were not hopelessly suffering – God was saving them. As the terror of the Holocaust spread across Europe, God was kicking Americans out of warm beds and comfortable lives. He was training them in war and sending them across an ocean to a land many had never seen, to save men, women, and children whom they had never met. Many died in combat without seeing the fruit of their objective, but whether they knew it or not, they were all saviors from the hand of God. Hundreds of death camps were liberated and the oppressed peoples of Europe were freed. That single Jewish salute implied so much to be thankful for.

As the credits rolled, I saw life anew. Life is like a movie we watch, an intricate weaving of plot and character two hours long. History threads through its actors small and great. Each of our lives is a 20-second snippet in the film, filled with good and bad, beauty and ugliness. Taken by itself, 20 seconds in a motion picture is nothing – we can hardly infer much about the plot or lesson. Some 20 seconds jolt you to recoil, while others overflow you with joy. Yet how can we judge a whole movie based on 20 seconds?

My life has been a pretty few seconds of comfort and beauty, of things and people I enjoy intimately. I’ve often asked myself why God made my life so beautiful, so wondrous. I know that others do not have the same experience; their 20 seconds are so much darker. And then there is life after death and life in the spiritual world – another realm of the story that is not visible in my 20 seconds. How can I know life when it’s only a tiny snapshot of a much longer reel?

Yet God has given us the synopsis for the movie – the inside scoop from the Producer Himself. The perfect story He has given in His Word, the Bible. He shows the main characters and the high points of the plot. He shows how evil works for good. And He has also stepped into the set of the story. He has become a man in the person of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. He stepped in as the main character in this dramatic adventure and suffered the ultimate unfairness: unmerited execution of an innocent as a criminal. He was humiliated, tortured, and went through Hell – for us. He paid the punishment for our evils, for the daily Holocausts we pit against each other in our petty hatreds and jealousies and superiority-complexes. And then He rose from the dead to conquer death forever as a promise of our own resurrection. And for those who place their trust in Him as their true Father and Savior, He has promised a life after this life that cannot even be put into words:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Without eternal life after death, life here does not make sense. Without Divine justice in the world to come, justice here fails to be fulfilled. Without Divine everlasting Love, love here fades away in death and time. Without the Word of God, our words and deeds fade away and come to naught. Without God, life is nothing: We are just dust wandering in the wind.

Yet we are not without these things. God is here. He brings sense to life, even when we cannot always understand Him. He is too wonderful to understand completely, like a stunning autumn storm that strikes breathtaking fear in our hearts and rains down blessings on our souls. Through Him, we can trust that our 20 seconds will be an indispensable piece of the two-hour show. We are part of His story. And that is something to be thankful for.

Easter: Beyond Eggs and Bunnies

As this Easter season draws near, I hope the local Easter egg hunt isn’t the only event that comes to mind. Because Easter didn’t begin with a game of eggs and bunnies — it started with a cross and climaxed with an empty tomb.

This Easter marks a special 1-year anniversary for me: It was the day before Easter a year ago that I first wore my cross pendant. Every day since then, with hardly an exception, I have worn that cross. It is a beautiful thing, gold-chained and glinting with diamonds (or so I speculate that’s what those stones are).

But did you know that what I’m wearing around my neck is an instrument of torture and death? Today we see bejeweled cross pendants all the time, often gracing the flesh of superstars singing steamy lyrics. But two thousand years ago, the cross was the most hideous of the hideous — its silhouette upon a hill would bring both chills and shouts of derision, for it was the choice of the Romans for public execution. Those traitors and criminals unlucky enough not to have Roman citizenship were subjected to this most humiliating of deaths: First each was beaten until the internal organs were exposed (many died during this stage); then each had to carry his cross all the way to the site of execution, with crowds jeering; then each lain down upon the cross and had nails driven through wrists and feet, crushing sensitive nerves; and then each was hosted up to hang naked upon the cross for all to see. Besides the extreme pain of the beating and the nails, the person would have to lift himself up with his feet in order to breath, for his particular hanging position would prevent breathing otherwise. After hours had passed, however, his exhaustion would overtake him, and he’d die of suffocation. Many times, the Romans would leave his body as food for the birds.

It is a far cry from diamonds and gold. Why do I wear this wretched symbol?

Partly, because my Lord and my God suffered upon the same instrument of death as those criminals thousands of years ago. His name on earth was Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter-turned-preacher in ancient Israel. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached to the poor. And He revealed Himself to be God, the Creator clothed in human form: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:23). God came down to dwell with His creatures as one of them. His extraordinary deeds and claims are recorded in the Bible, which has been proven time and again in history and science as the reliable and extraordinary record of God’s Words. Hundreds of years before, God predicted that He would suffer death for men (Isaiah 53, etc.).

Why did God suffer on the cross? I would say that the cross is the most brutal and humiliating of deaths devised by man — why did the Creator of the universe let Himself be subjected to it? The answer lies in the saving purpose of God: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). For “all of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).

We all have committed wrong and hurt God and our fellow men, who have been created in God’s image. Yet this God, instead of judging us all to our rightful punishment according to justice, laid the justice upon Himself in the form of Jesus Christ. He stepped into our deserved place on the cross.

Isn’t it unfathomable! The very thought has often brought tears to me as I stare outside a window, contemplating God. The Creator of the universe, the King of heaven and earth, owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. He could have wiped the slate clean the moment man did wrong and hurt others. He could have judged us all on the spot. But no — He brought Himself to suffer in our place — in the place of criminals and evil men! God suffered for us His enemies — it is beyond beautiful, beyond words!

But the cross is only half the story. If Jesus died and that was that, He would be like all the rest of religious leaders throughout history. Today we find their tombs and many venerate their final resting places. But not with Christ. Because on the third day, on that Sunday morn, Jesus rose from the dead. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Against the wishes of the religious authorities and the guarding of the tomb by Roman soldiers, He conquered death, the final enemy, and appeared to His disciples and over 500 people after His resurrection (1 Cor 15:6). The enemy of man, death, was no match for the God of life. And because Christ rose from the dead, we can be assured that we who believe will conquer death, too. We will rise and be with God for all eternity, because He rose from the dead.

For not only was the ticket of our sin paid in full on the cross, but our ticket to life was insured by the empty tomb. Christ rose, and so shall we. That is why I wear the cross, and that is what we should remember come this Easter morn.

If

by inhonoredglory

The future is a fickle thing. To rational beings such as ourselves, we are irked when we cannot set our destinies out perfectly before us, when we cannot see the road of our lives turn and lengthen before us, the picture of predictability. More troubling is simply not knowing – not having a certain and infallible picture of what lies before us. In reaction, worry consumes us; we are tortured by the possibles, by the what if’s, the maybe’s and perhaps’s. How can we know what will happen to us? How can we be sure? How can we predict what is to come?

Simply, we can’t.

But we must understand that this is not the final answer to the question of life’s if’s, for life is not a progression of chances, a plodding series of meaningless circumstances. Life is too complex for that. The minuteness of science and the vastness of philosophy prove that there is Something greater than ourselves from Whom all knowledge flows. The truth of answered prayer and the sting of genuine conscience attest to the existence of a very real Someone behind the hopes of man. And this God is not a silent watcher or purposeless bystander to the events of life. He is active and participant in our lives and in the very existence of this universe, for the delicate bond of physical life could not be sustained without divine hands. This God is great and awesome, for Who could create conscious life from empty blackness? This God is caring and just, for Who can employ all the beautiful virtues in a single act of history, in His Son’s death and resurrection?

But this God is also full of all knowledge and wisdom. From before the beginning, He knew and planned what was to be (Prov. 16:9; Acts 4:27-28; Eph. 1:4-5; etc). From the infinite wells of his understanding, he molded the figure of history, from its greatest battles to its smallest deaths, for not even a sparrow is lost from His eye when it falls. This God of Heaven is the only One Who knows what is to come, for He is the only One Who fashioned the future. It is He on Whom we must place our trust and hope. He is the One we must look to when the storms of life water our view of the future, and He is the One we must trust even when it seems that the cycles of life are moving effortlessly.

And trust in God is not an empty thing. By holding dear what is true, we acknowledge a pleasing grace to His children: For God only does to His people that which is good for them (Rom. 8:28). This, however, does not merely mean what seems good in our eyes; it does not eradicate sadness and evil in the lives of His people, no. The promise means that, in whatever befalls us, God has set up an end that is for the benefit of our souls, for the improvement of our spirits towards Him. And often it is the sadder things of life that brings us nearer to Him than the glowing moments of ease. In the still and grave experiences, we mine deeper into our hearts, farther in our minds, to find eternal peace and meaning. So we cannot be surprised that God plans misfortunes for us; for it is, in the end, for our benefit, and for His glory. For even “the wrath of man shall praise thee” (Ps. 76:10), so how can we doubt His purpose in everything that occurs?

Therefore, we must be soothed, we must be calmed, by the fact of God’s great all-knowing nature, that He is always sure of what is ahead, that He is always the same in His graceful purpose for everything He does. The worries of life should never touch the leveled waters of our souls, for we have more than a promise, more than a hope; we have a God Who is real and active and in complete sovereign control over the littlest things in all of life.

God is a God of many facets and beauties. One of His pleasures is the gift of His purpose in the lives of His children. We, then, must trust Him; we must give our minds wholly to His will and His plan. For though we cannot ever know the future, we can live in peace, knowing this: that God sees only the future He put in motion, that there are no wondering possibilities, that there are, in the eyes of God, no if’s in life at all.

Life in Death: a play

by inhonoredglory

A dim-lit room is occupied by two men: Joshua in a bed, facing the audience, and Thomas standing by his side. A window in the upper left of the room has its shades open, but clouds cover the sunlight. Overcast light shadows the room.

Joshua (weakly): I know it’s been a long time, son.

When the dark reveals the light

Thomas: Yeah, Dad.

Joshua: But I’m glad you’re here, now; it’ll make me feel better.

Thomas: Let’s not talk about it. Happy times.

Joshua: I understand, son. But—

Thomas: Like the reunion at Jim’s. Or—

Joshua: Thomas.

Thomas: Dad.

Joshua: Thomas. (pause) Thomas, I know it’s uncomfortable. I know we’ve never wanted to talk about it. And I understand that. It’s just . . . I’m not going to be seeing you.

Thomas: Do you really want to talk about—

Joshua: Yes, Thomas. Yes, before it’s too late. I want you to understand something. I want you to know the peace I’ve—

Thomas: I know where you’re going with this. Please, Dad, I want this to be happy. Let’s not go there.

Joshua: I understand. (pause) Thomas, I’m going to do something to spare you pain later.

Thomas: What—?

Joshua: Remember your grandfather?

Thomas: Well, uh, yeah. Yeah I remember Gramps.

Joshua: He died in our house, you know. I was there.

Thomas: And how does this relate to, to what you said?

Joshua: Patience, son. Well, Father – you’re grandfather – I was with him in his last moments. You could never see so much agony. Because he was unsure – he didn’t know where he was going.

Thomas: Dad, stop.

Joshua: He wanted to believe. He wanted peace. But something kept bothering him. He couldn’t give his heart to God not knowing how to answer the pain in his life, the evil in the world, the suffering. (pause) And I know you think the same way.

Thomas: Dad, stop it.

Joshua: That’s why you’ve never wanted to come up after your mother died. Maybe that’s why you joined that group in the hills. Maybe that’s what’s giving you pain. With the divorce. . .

Thomas: Please, Dad, I’ve got my own life.

Joshua: Maybe, but you haven’t got your own happiness; you haven’t got your own hope. You haven’t got your own peace and love inside.

Thomas (quietly): Dad?

Joshua: Son, I understand what you’ve been through. I walked down your road when my father died. I cursed God, just as I’m sure you have. How could He take him from me, I asked. How could He be good if He did that.

Thomas (quietly): God doesn’t care.

Joshua (coughs): That’s what I said.

Thomas: But what’s left? I didn’t know what to do. Clara brought me to the Society. I wanted it to fill me, but it didn’t. But God didn’t care. What could I do? Where could I go? The world is empty. Dad, what’s the answer? How could God do that? You said you’re at peace— How? How could you when the world is nothing, all evil?

Joshua: Son, Thomas, I know the answer. God knows the answer. We just must listen. I was angry at God because I didn’t stop and let Him tell me His point of view. I was just thinking of my position. (coughs, then continues exasperatedly) Son, let me tell you. No, let God tell you. (He takes a thin Bible from under his bed covers and taps it lightly.) We pass judgment on God without letting Him take the stand. But He tells us why. He wants us to know. That’s why His testimony is everywhere – in this Book.

(coughs hard. Thomas holds his jerking body.)

Thank you, Thomas.

Thomas: But how can God explain it?

Joshua: Thomas, I am ill, only because I know what is health. The blind from birth cannot understand vision because they have never experienced it. Son, God does the same. How can we know love and good and beauty if we are not given pain and evil and ugliness? We cannot know the light without the dark. We cannot find the truth without there being lies for us to avoid.

Thomas: Why didn’t He make us all perfect to begin with?

Joshua: He couldn’t. God’s people would be blind then. They could not appreciate His great goodness without knowing the abhorrent evil that is not Him. Even the angels, unknown to sin, must be shown the panorama of mankind, in order to learn the evil of the other side, and the beauty, holiness, and grace of God.

Thomas: What about good people? Why are they punished?

Joshua: We are all children, even the men and women who know the truth of evil. We sometimes go wrong, forget the blackness of the mortal world, lose faith in God, maybe forget about Him and begin trusting ourselves. God is like a parent – our Father. He teaches us through circumstances. He wakes us up with pain. Happy times don’t get us thinking; hard times do. Maybe we need a slap in the face, to get us thinking about the eternal things, not mortal ones. We need a reminder of the unworthiness of the world and the worldly; we need a reminder that God is the only One we must depend on, the only One who gives us peace and hope. (coughs hard) You see, son, God knows everything. He knows us. Oh, He knows us all too well. He knows we are doubtful, that we question Him. He knows our hearts, our fear of Him, often our hate of Him and His watching of our personal evils. He knows that if He didn’t allow evil people to demonstrate that evilness, we would never understand His punishment of their hearts. We would never understand His justice against that blackness in the world. We would never understand the holiness that is required of coming to Him. (inhales deeply and reaches feebly for a glass on the dresser)

Thomas (quietly): But why mother?

Joshua (holding Thomas’s hand tightly): Thomas, it’s very hard, but we all need to experience evil. We all need to feel the power that it possessed in a world against God. Through our closest losses, we know that no one is separate from sin, that sin is what takes us all away. But such a loss is also an example to us; we understand just a little of the sacrifice of God for us – sending His only Son, the closest One to Him, to die for us. We can grasp the greatness of His love to die for someone who is not even worthy of salvation. We know at last that, though sin kills, there is Someone Who is greater than sin, Someone Who has led that powerful evil captive.

(Joshua coughs hard. Light begins to emerge from the window. Thomas looks down from Joshua’s eyes.) Son, God told Ezekiel and Paul that we shouldn’t ask God for explanations of the evil in this world. But even still, God tells us. God wants us to know Him, but He also wants us to know ourselves, too, that we are bad, in our very hearts. Even the most holy men recognize their unworthiness in the face of the great goodness of God. But God has chosen a portion of the wicked clay to mold into vessels of glory for Himself. He knows that we could never understand His eternal plans; we are mortal. But God never does something without a cause, even the evils, He tells Ezekiel. He provides us reasons for the things we can’t understand. He gave us a Book; He gave us His Word; He gave us His Son. Don’t ignore it, son. You can believe in God and in the sacrifice He made to set us free.

(He grasps his son’s hand.)

Thomas, believe.

Thomas (looking into Joshua’s eyes): Dad.

(The light from the window becomes brighter. A warm smile breaks over Joshua’s face. Then, as he is looking in his son’s eyes, the focus leaves his own. He stares softly, with a smile, into his son’s face.)

Thomas: Dad? (looks closer) Dad? (touches Joshua’s face) Dad, it’s not— not when you’ve just— Dad, (kneels beside bed, arms around Joshua) not when I can now see, now know. (looks up into brightening light and down to his father) God, forgive me. Dad. Oh, Lord. Father.

(The curtains move slightly; the light brightens around the bed, around the thin Bible near Joshua’s hand. Thomas pulls the Bible closer to him; it slides from under Joshua’s hand.)

God, forgive me. I have peace now, of knowing. Dad’s with You, Lord.

(He looks back at Joshua, suddenly smiling through moist eyes)

And, God, so am I.

The Summer of My Life

The cool days of spring have just left; summer’s here so quickly, I’ve hardly had time to watch my apple tree blossoms bloom. I’ve been too busy studying for the last tests of high school, so busy with the last finishing touches of my childhood years, and now, my spring has gone. But with the deadlines passing and the lessons trickling to a few, I turn my face to the new season before me, beholding the vast freedom of summer. The whole world lies sparkling, bright pebbles in the creek, begging me to pick up and do. A new season of life is rising in the dawn, a season ripe to live and shape as my very own. But how shall I live it, and for what purpose? What shall I do with the Summer of my life?

For the season does not last long; the bright and busy days flash by so swiftly that somber fall soon arrives, then grave winter. Thus, I see many people “living for the moment,” chasing their whim wherever it takes them, whether the boat or the beach or the trail. Why spend the good days doing dreary tasks and hoarding a savings? Delight in life, for “tomorrow we die.”

Yet the pleasures of summer are even briefer than summer itself. For the moment after the boat glides back to the dock or the foot steps off the beach or trail, the lingering euphoria fades away. And the feeling cannot be recaptured by memory, but must be mustered again and again by repeated experiences of the same. So life travels in a cycle of continuous quests for pleasure, pleasures that grow increasingly hard to enjoy as time slows and weakens the body. For who, reaching the age of eighty, can still pulsate with the desires of youth? For “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8b), so in the end, what value has been retained?

Others, too, feel the continuous striving for pleasure as too shallow a life philosophy. Rather than frolicking in the carefree ocean, these people study the currents, the wind patterns, the seagull formations. Not “live in the moment,” but “seek knowledge” is their maxim. Theories expounding the world’s secret complexities, from the workings of the atom to the origin of the universe, are their life’s end. Is not this what the marvelous mind of man was made for, to desire and know truth?

Yet in the eye of science, truth seems so transient. Thousands of theories have been hailed as true, then abandoned years, decades, or centuries later. Once, the scientists and intellectuals of a past age hailed as fact that the sun and planets turned around the earth and that mice arose from stale wheat. Now, their sure ideas are laughed at. But how are we to know that our current knowledge will not follow the futile way of former ones? If anything is proven by scientific history, it is that theories come and go as the tides of the sea. For what purpose is all this knowledge painstakingly gained?

But maybe I will forsake the knowledge-seekers and the pleasure-seekers, and turn to my fellow man. Don’t I see many others giving their summers to those they love, holding their babies and kissing their wives and laughing with friends like these were the essence of life? Surely to love and be loved is more enduring than passing pleasure, more meaningful than mere learning. Surely what could be greater, more wondrous, and more lasting than a life dedicated to friends and family?

Yet even these do not last. Children grow and run away to their own sunny places. In the summer days, friends abound; but often when the sky darkens and the rains begin, they migrate to better climates. Even spouses grow bored and restless, wandering from their solemn pledges. How are we to know if love can evade betrayal? And even if so, then death stings all the more colder, when a dearly loved one is untimely gone. Who will be there to remember and to comfort, when they all will go or be gone?

Yet now, there is a Constant beyond these varying, fading, earthly things: a Creator who’s chosen His children to live for the greatest Goal. For this, the heavens and earth were made, and all that is in them. For this, we have been created – to glorify God. He is the center and the axis upon which all the universe turns. He is the Theme and the Writer of history, the Teacher and the Lesson of creation. He is the Good that shines and defeats the darkness, turning its schemings straight into His plans. And because He is not just infinite in time and space and power, but also in goodness, He is also infinite in value.

And because He is perfect in holy worth, nothing we find can excel Him. This life’s love may betray, but His love is always faithful. All knowledge may pass away, but He knows and reveals all secrets and all wonders. Earthly pleasure passes, but His heavenly joy and glory surpasses every delight for all eternity. The seasons grow and wither, but He forever lives. Glory be to God! How can we wonder then, when the Son of God proclaimed the greatest commandment of all: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

So when this summer comes, I pray that the Lord will be my single goal and glory.

So when I laugh and play, I’ll remember: Every moment is His, lent to me by His gracious hand. O, how I must spend it wisely. For life is too short to dwell on that which doesn’t matter, to invest in that which has no lasting value. Only God has everlasting value, only He matters when the winter comes. From the dawn’s first sunrays to the shadows of dusk, I will praise His name, proclaim His name, and pray His name.

So when I lie still and ponder, I’ll remember: In Him alone can I find not just perfect knowledge, but perfect wisdom: not just the how’s of the universe, but the why’s. The greatest search for truth is to know God – in the mind and in the heart and in the soul.

And when I kiss and hug those I love, I’ll remember: When they and I have gone our separate ways, God still will be there. When our love is shaken, His love remains unbroken and everlasting. For how could God stop loving us His children, when He has demonstrated “His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Yet sinners! Yet, God died for us His enemies, to create us pure and blameless before Him as glories to His name. So “not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:6-8).

So as the new season dawns, I do not know where I’ll go or what I’ll be. But I know that I will glorify God – not just for this summer, but to the fall and through the winter and onward to the everlasting Spring.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36