his post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
A time to be born and a time to die…
The writer of Ecclesiastes knew that change was a part of life. In this life, everything changes. God alone is constant. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3.1-2).” In all of creation, the only thing that is unchanging is God.
All of us will experience constant change throughout our lives. Sometimes the changes we experience in life are joyous, like the birth of a child. Other times, the changes we experience are deeply sorrowful, such as the death of a loved one.
I know that change can be difficult and sometimes painful. In my own life, I’ve experienced a great deal of change this past month. On the first of July, I celebrated my thirty-first birthday. On that day, I also had my sixteenth eye surgery. One of the tubes in my eye (I have two tube shunts in my right eye and one in my left eye to alleviate the high intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma) had broken through the cornea. On my birthday, and the amazing doctors at Wills Eye in Philadelphia were able to do a tube shunt revision with patch graft. This means that they removed the scar tissue that had healed around the tube shunt, re positioned the tube shunt, and then covered the tube with some donor tissue so that it would be unlikely to break through the cornea again.
The surgery was very painful, but I rejoiced that I was able to afford such top-notch medical care and that I everything went well. I have much to for which to thank God. Sadly, the next day, I received word that my father passed away. He passed away on July 2nd and his passing was very sudden and unexpected. It was a painful reminder that our human lives are brief and that our time is not God’s time.
My deep sorrow is the fact that I did not get the opportunity to get to know my father better (he moved back to his home country of the Philippines when I was very young); however, the absence of an earthly father helped me to begin to rely on a heavenly Father at a very young age. It also caused me to view many of the men at the small church where I grew up as father figures. My church family was an incredibly important part of my life during my formative years and it is my hope that the churches I serve can provide that same sense of love and community for other young people who may feel a sense of separation from their earthly families.
A time to weep and a time to laugh…
This summer, I will take time to mourn the passing of my father. But I will also take time to rejoice in the many blessings that God has given me. I am grateful for my loving family, for the happy memories that I had the opportunity to share with my father (few and precious as they were), the fact that so far I am making a good recovery from my eye surgery (although I’m still not allowed to bend over or lift anything), and the joy that I am blessed with two loving church families (Christ Community UMC and Llyswen UMC). I am also excited about my first book signing, which will be taking place at our local library this Saturday. I was invited to take part with two fabulous local authors!
I will also remember that our time in this life is so very brief. My father was only sixty-seven years old. The last time I spoke to my father was on Father’s Day. The last thing I said to him was, “I love you.” I am grateful that our last words to each other were words of love.
Most of all, I am grateful for the love of Jesus Christ. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I was able to find the strength to continue on in the midst of my sorrow. Jesus knew what it was to suffer. God knew the pain of losing a Son. I am grateful for a God that knows our suffering and our hurt. My heart takes solace that we have a Savior who walks with us through the darkest valleys of our lives.
The three last words I said to my father were, “I love you.”
This month, I would like to leave you with a challenge: Pick up the phone and call someone. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while or a family member to whom you haven’t spoken in ages. Tell them you love them. Tell them God loves them. Invite them to come back to church. We never know how much time we have left and none of us are promised tomorrow.
Instead of dwelling on the sorrow of the past, I will do my best to help to build a brighter future. I will pick up the phone and call my grandmother and my mother right now. I will tell them that I love them and that I’m so grateful for every day that I have with them. I will choose to speak words of love.
Friends, may we face the change boldly. May we bravely choose love. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear (John 4.18a).”
Until Next Time,
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!
Have you heard about Audible? Audible is one of my favorite apps. I use it all the time to read books. Try Audible today and get two free audiobooks! I recommend Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor or Can You Drink This Cup? by Henri Nouwen. Try Audible for completely free, and if you cancel, you still get to keep the books!