Wednesday, July 18, 2007

All That Comes and All That Goes

“To every thing there is a season…A time to get, and a time to lose...”

The entire July issue of Decision magazine is given to the celebration of the life and death of Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth. Along with all her many wonderful qualities, it was a blessing for me to read about someone with some of the same quirks that I possess. For instance, she was a self-admitted pack-rat, a lover of small antiques, and an inveterate searcher for old books. My husband grinned when I read to him of a friend’s memory of her “on her hands and knees, looking on the lowest bookshelf, or on a ladder trying to get up to the top shelf in these really old, old bookshops.” Only a few days earlier, I had been in just such positions in a wonderful bookshop in Modesto called, “Yesterday’s Books.”

Besides her love of study in general, and the Bible in particular, she was known for her kindness to others and her incurable optimism in the face of loneliness, hardship, and pain. The article states that her children were “mostly unaware of their mother’s loneliness and struggles to manage the family when their father was her away. Her son, Franklin, offered this tribute to his mother:

“I don’t think she ever talked about him leaving. We knew he was preaching, but we thought that everyone’s father was away a lot. It’s just something we grew up with. She was always positive and would quote the old mountain man: ‘Make the least of all that goes, the most of all that comes.’”

Solomon tells us in one of the many seasonal aspects of life he points out in the first part of Ecclesiastes 3, there is “a time to get and a time to lose.” It’s just a fact of life, and nothing can change it. Not even money or prestige. People enter our lives and then they leave them, one way or another; possessions are susceptible to loss or destruction; and fame is fleeting. But for the Christian who sees the hand of God behind all this coming and going, the old mountain man’s philosophy is, by far, the best way to balance the two. “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” So said the beleaguered Job (1:21). Rather than clutching and mourning those things and people that are taken away, we should be embracing—and yes, enhancing—those things and people God is bringing to us. Our “Hello’s” should outshine our “Good-bye’s.”

I am reminded of the angels’ admonition to the disciples when our Lord was ascending back to Heaven:

“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven: this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

It is important to remember that our Lord was crucified, buried, raised, and taken back to the Father; but we must never forget that He left so that He could come back. It is those things and those people God is bringing to us (or back to us) that we should be making the most of.

Make the least of all that goes, the most of all that comes.

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