While looking out the window of a store the other day, I had the opportunity to observe an extended family unit consisting of Grandparents and a young family pausing on the sidewalk across the street. The Grandmother had needed assistance out the door of a store, and she seemed to struggle with her balance; Grandfather looked steadier and more agile on his feet. The grandchildren were approximately around the ages of four and two, and the two-year old reached up to Grandma, wanting her to pick him up: she lifted him up part way, and then, perhaps thinking better of it, put him down, and while still holding his hand, walked away following Grandfather and the four-year old. As I watched the young clinging tightly to the hands of the old, (and noticed one of the parents filming the interaction), the verse, “There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) came to mind. There was a time, there was a day for the Grandparents to be young and raise a family; now it was their turn to let the next generation take over. There had been a time to give birth, and soon, there would be a time to die.
This morning I stopped in at a house that my brother, a carpenter, is working on. The home used to belong to my Grandmother on my Father’s side. My only memory of the house is standing in her kitchen, drinking Root Beer Fizzies, and her telling me I was too skinny. I haven’t set foot in that house for nearly 49 years, and when I opened the side door to the kitchen, stepped in and looked around, not much seemed familiar. There was a time for Grandma to live there and family to gather, but that was then, this is now. There is a time for every event under heaven… and frankly, the house was in such shape that I thought it really should be bull-dozed: “A time to tear down…
As we packed for our recent move, we came across items we had saved that held meaning and memories. Many things, I tossed. There had been a time that the object had held value, but now, the memory was enough; “A time to keep and a time to throw away…” I still come across things that I realize have served their purpose, and now, it’s time to let them go.
A few years ago, a young family man in our church who was dying of cancer stood during a church service and began to read Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, 1 through 8. He didn’t get far into the verses, and sat down crying. We were all silently grieving, knowing that he knew that his time to die was quickly approaching.
When I was in the midst of divorce proceedings and trying to gain custody of my children, I knew when I hit a brick wall that it was time to give up. “A time to search, and a time to give up as lost.” It was time to stop trying; my life as a (physically present) mother was in the past, and as much as it hurt, I had to face reality and move on. I could only pray that if I couldn’t have my children in this life, then please God, please let them be with me in eternity.
We are all aware that there is a time for everything in our lives. We know it will be time to be a child, and then a parent, and then, a time to die. We know there is a time to rise up, and a time to go to sleep. A time to mourn over events and a time to dance and celebrate. A time to move away from a house and let someone else make some memories. We know we will experience happiness and sorrow, and loss and gain in our lifetime, yet we cling to what we know and are accustomed to. When a life shift occurs, we are a bit stunned; why couldn’t things stay the same? If we know everything is just for a season, then why is change in life so difficult?
Wouldn’t we be better served in life if we didn’t cling so tightly to time? If we could accept that life will change and people will leave us and die. That houses will be sold and friends will move away. That children will leave home and not return. That nothing can ever be the same. I think if we realize that God has a plan, and plans can’t happen if things don’t change, then we might be more accepting and able to embrace or at least tread through this life a little more lightly. This time we have here on earth is so brief, barely a blink of God’s eye. Perhaps I need to look at life with God’s perspective and not mine; there might be fewer hurts and disappointments.
The photo above is of my Grandfather and my cousin the toddler, who is now 70 years old. The toddler grew up to be the person who one day flew a small plane from California to Nebraska that carried the Grandfather’s body. Life is change.