|The Pergola with daisies, lilies and a few roses in bloom|
"To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." At that thought, a familiar song likely comes to mind reminding us of spring, summer, fall and winter and the world around us. But there is so much more to the seasons of our life . . . SO much more.
"We are always coming to the end of something; nothing earthly is long-lived. Many things last but for a day; many, for only a moment. You look at the sunset-clouds, and there is a glory in them which thrills your soul; you turn to call a friend to behold the splendor with you—and it has vanished, and a new splendor—as wondrous, though altogether different—is in its place. You cross a field on an early summer morning, and every leaf and every blade of grass is covered with dewdrops, which sparkle like millions of diamonds as the first sunbeams fall on them; but a few moments later you return, and not a dewdrop is to be seen! You walk through your garden one summer morning, and note its wondrous variety of flowers in bloom, with their marvelous tints and their exquisite loveliness; tomorrow you walk again along the same paths, and there is just as great variety and as rich beauty—but all is changed. Many of yesterday's flowers are gone—and many new ones have bloomed out.
We come also to the end of trials and sorrows. Every night has a morning, and, however dark it may be, we have only to wait a little while for the sun to rise, when light will chase away the gloom. Every black cloud that gathers in the sky, and blots out the blue, or hides the stars—passes away before long; and when it is gone there is no stain left on the blue, and not a star's beam is quenched or even dimmed. The longest winter that destroys all life and beauty in field, forest and garden—is sure to come to an end, giving place to the glad springtime which re-clothes the earth in verdure as beautiful as that which perished.. . .
So it is with life's pains and troubles. Sickness gives place to health. Grief, however bitter, is comforted by the tender comfort of divine love. Sorrow, even the sorest, passes away—and joy comes again, not one glad note hushed, its music even enriched by its experience of sadness.
Thus in a Christian life—no shadow lingers long. Then it will be but a little time until all shadows shall flee away before heaven's glorious light—when forever life will go on without a pain or a sorrow! There is another ending: we shall come to the end of life itself. We shall come to the close of our last day; we shall do our last piece of work, and take our last walk, and write our last letter, and sing our last song, and speak our last "Goodnight". Then tomorrow we shall be gone, and the places that have known us—shall know us no more. Whatever other experiences we may miss—we shall not miss dying. Every human path, through whatever scenes it may wander, must bend at last into the Valley of Shadows.
Yet we ought not to think of death as calamity or disaster; if we are Christians, it will be the brightest day of our whole life—when we are called to go away from earth—to heaven. Work will then be finished, conflict will be over, sorrow will be past, death itself will be left behind, and life in its full, true, rich meaning will only really begin! The fragility and transitoriness of life, should lead us to be always ready for death. Though we are plainly taught by our Lord, not to worry about anything that the future may have in store for us; we are as plainly taught to live so as to be prepared for any event which may occur. Indeed, the only way to eliminate worry from our present—is to be ready for any possible future. Death is not merely a possible event—but is an inevitable event in everyone's future; we can live untroubled by dread of it—only by being ever ready for it. Preparation for death—is made by living a true Christian life. If we are in Christ by faith, and then follow Christ, doing his will day by day—we are prepared for death, and it can never surprise us unready.
True preparation for death is made, when we close each day as if it were the last. We are never sure of tomorrow; we should leave nothing incomplete any night. Each single separate little day—should be a miniature life, complete in itself, with nothing of duty left over. God gives us life by days, and with each day—he gives its own allotment of duty—a portion of his plan to be wrought out, a fragment of his purpose to be accomplished by us. Our mission is to find that bit of divine will—and do it. Well-lived days make completed years, and the years well lived as they come—make a life beautiful and full. In such a life no special preparation of any kind is needed; he who lives thus—is always ready. Each day prepares for the next, and the last day prepares for glory.
If we thus live, coming to the end of life need have no terror for us. Dying does not interrupt life for a moment. Death is not a wall cutting off the path—but a gate through which passing out of this world of shadows and unrealities—we shall find ourselves in the immediate presence of the Lord and in the midst of the glories of the eternal home!
We need have only one care—that we live well our one short life as we go on, that we love God and our neighbor, that we believe on Christ and obey his commandments, that we do each duty as it comes to our hand, and do it well. Then no sudden coming of the end will ever surprise us unprepared. Then, while glad to live as long as it may be God's will to leave us here—we shall welcome the gentle angel who comes with the golden joy to lead us to rest and home!"
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: