The other day Jason, our seven-year-old, and I sat on a concrete bench at the bus stop as we began discussing how sad we both were that one of our dogs had died from a strange stomach condition after having taken her to the vet several times. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly began telling Jason how everything – everything – has a beginning and an end. Except God.
This fact is probably rather obvious, but for both of us it proved to be a rather profound realization. Every animal, plant, and human has a beginning (when it is born or planted) and its end, when it dies. Even the oldest, most majestic of all trees will one day fall. Earth had its beginning as it exploded out of the Creator’s heart, and one day it will have its end when He calls his people to enter the Kingdom. Every opportunity, job, meal, building, project and relationship has a beginning and an end. Same with the sun, the stars. Our own bodies change every day, each day drawing nearer to their physical end. Snowflakes melt, childhood passes, my favorite hiking boots come undone at the seams.
Living on a ranch with the children has allowed each of us the priceless experience of learning first-hand that birth and death are normal parts of life while we are on Earth. Our horse died of a poisonous snake bite, several baby chicks died upon being born, fruits are picked from the trees and eaten. More radish seeds are planted, the chicks grow into chickens, and the rooster is killed when his season has passed. Birth. Life. Death.
I am currently on a three-night solitude retreat high up in the mountains of Honduras at a small bed and breakfast. This afternoon I walked barefoot around the well-manicured grounds, hearing the river roar far below, admiring this peaceful escape while at the same time realizing that it won’t be here forever. The building itself will begin to wear down over the years, the owners may close down or pass away, and things will change.
I don’t know about you, but this realization helps me tremendously to let go. When I get so wrapped up in our marriage or focused on some material improvement or place my identity in my temporary vocation, God whispers: It will all pass except me.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18