Yesterday, dozens of people came to the site of our now closed Christian school to carry away books, charts, desks, equipment … the things that we used in the ministry of loving and serving children for 40 years. Knowing that someone valued what was now useless to us is a source of small comfort. Yet, I experienced real sorrow! Phil, who has maintained the school IT structure for many years, closed the network server last night and sent me a note – “this is pretty sad, a lot of memories...” I have tried to be philosophical about this … to everything there is a season … but it still is an ending and it is difficult.
Endings are part of all of life.
Some we choose. We take a new job. We move to a new town.
Some are inevitable. Our children grow up and move on to their own lives. Death takes a friend or family member.
Some result from things outside of our control; a company that closes, a storm that wrecks our home, an important person who retires.
So, how do we best manage the endings?
First, as Christians we settle our faith on the One who is “Alpha and Omega.”
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8, NLT) God lives outside of time. Our lives, fragile as they seem to us, are secured in Him. He is not paralyzed by those developments in life that are so difficult for us. Paul helps us to connect the Eternal God to our present lives inspired to teach us that “because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:37-39, The Message)
Second, we remind ourselves that endings create new opportunities.
Endings reshuffle life and, most of the time, the change that come with an ending brings some level of discomfort. If we are wise, we will take time to re-evaluate, to ask God to reveal to us what opportunities are being presented to us. When a friend moves away, it makes room in our life for a new friendship. When retirement brings an end to our life at work, it makes time available to us to volunteer, to learn some new skill.
Third, we appropriately mourn the feelings of loss and celebrate the victories and then turn our focus to the future.
Paul’s well-known words should guide us. “Brothers, … one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV) Endings provide a moment to remember. Writing ‘the end’ on a chapter of life may even cause us to feel some sense of guilt for things undone or that might have been done differently. We cannot thrive on yesterday’s successes nor is it possible to go back and fix the mistakes. God has a future purposed for us – even beyond the big end of death! He invites us now to become people who live with eternal hope! Are you ready to ask, “what’s next, Abba?”
Finally, endings are a reminder of the uncertainty of tomorrow and of the importance of living our best life today!
- Is there a relationship that you need to repair but you just keep putting off reaching out to that person? Do it today, for God’s sake.
- Is there something you know God wants you to do, but everyday life just keeps you from getting it done? Just do it!
We can burn through days, weeks, months letting the urgent things that are pressed on us keep us from the important things. We can keep deferring God’s call, setting aside a dream, telling ourselves that ‘tomorrow’ will bring another opportunity. It may, but it might not. “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17, NLT) That’s sobering!
The word from the Word comes from James. His words may jar us, but they inspired wisdom. “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, NIV)
If you’re dealing with an ending, may the Spirit encourage greater faith, give you eternal vision, and lead you to live fully in the present.
The Heart Of Worship
(a beautiful prayer!)
When the music fades all is stripped away
and I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You all about You Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You all about You Jesus
King of endless worth no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor all I have is Yours
Ev’ry single breath
Matt Redman © 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055