Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Moments of Transience and Immortality

“… people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

—Isaiah 40:6b-8 (NLT).

There are vast extremes in all of life; the polar cold and the desert heat; love and war; living and dying; earth and heaven. The fact that we don’t think in these ways nearly enough is testimony to our transient folly—the thought that we’ll be around forever. Things are, in truth, not what they seem.

My wife bought flowers recently for a photo shoot. They were lovely pretty pink delicates—a sweet bunch, though I’m sure women will have gained even more from them than I. The flowers graced our kitchen table thereafter for several days, hardly anyone noticing, until a significant wither began to take place—they seemed to go downhill rapidly.

Our perception of life is awkward and splayed. We don’t see very well and we hardly notice the sort of dying phenomenon a time-lapse photography set might show. We miss the mystery and the wonder. The flowers didn’t wither overnight.

When I did my science degree we had a very basic project to do as part of the human biology coursework. We had to determine when a lemon died. At various stages we had to gauge its status-of-lifecycle; alive, dying or dead—unripened to ripened, I guess, is another way of looking at it.

We tart up our bodies, our faces, our hair. We make the best of what we have. We take what’s been given us and we improve it the best we can—and even better than that in some cases. In our day of bloom we’re resplendent in our youth—and the time lasts, doesn’t it? Well, at my age it does—for the better part. Sure, my hair’s receding and I’m getting a speck of grey in there… my eyesight is getting “longer” and my wrinkles more pronounced.

These are signs of my transience. I’m dying. Perhaps I’m dying slower than some, but there’s no real difference between me and that lemon I studied or those flowers my wife bought.

Nearly everything in life has a life—a time of blossoming and a time of recession. There is one thing, however, that remains unchanged through the ages. It’s the thing that remains immortal. It’s ironically something most of us hardly even consider… the thing we can ignore for the whole of our lives—the only perfectly true thing.

What is it that will remain long after we’re gone—even unto the ages? It is the wisdom and word of God, that’s what; the very nature that the whole creation was based upon. The words may pass away and all printed Bibles, but the word of the Lord will never be expunged—never ever!

And what difference does this tidy fact make to us? It’s designed to give us appropriate context for our very own lives, that’s what. We wither and fade yet other things continue on fundamentally unchanged. We can stand in awe at that dichotomy.

It’s like the rock at the beach which I ran through my fingers recently; it may not breathe like I can, but it’s been here since the dawn of time and it’ll remain long after I’m gone.

What was for me, when I’m dead, will be for the generations to come—from everlasting to everlasting—as far as east is to west, to the depths of the deepest oceans and the heights of the highest skies.

How could anyone not see God from the viewpoint of these truths, in the context of the blip that is my life and yours?

God, our existence, history, science, creation… it’s a total mystery our awe-filled minds and hearts can only but gasp at. And yet, the mystery is the bizarre basis of our faith. We draw such comfort that God has an eternal plan for us. And this is by pure virtue of God’s grace to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

© 2009, S. J. Wickham.

Photo by Sarah J Wickham.

No comments: