I’ve been thinking more lately about stages of life. Jen and I are in this weird place in life where lots of things are happening at once. Our last child will graduate from high school this year & head off to college. Our middle daughter is graduating college this year and off to her own career. And eventually, we look forward to being grandparents. Our parents are aging and unfortunately, my wife has lost her mom and step-father. We can also see the end of our careers coming – not in the next year or two, but in the next 5-10 years. We’re in a season and entering a season of lots of changes (some good, some bad, some that carry some stress). In fact, this coming season may be a time of the most major change we’ve experienced in our lives together. It’s a time where I’m thankful for our faith in God and our eternal hope.
I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 as I realize God is in control of the here and now as well as my eternal destiny:
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."
There is a season for everything. Many people have walked the path we are walking and gone through the phase we are going into. I hope to do this next phase of life well. I believe our faith in God is what will sustain us and even help us thrive in this next phase.
My father-in-law passed away recently. He was a real character who left an impression on everyone he met. He loved deeply and lived a full life, but more importantly, he knew Jesus. It’s true that the church had let him down, but he was deeply spiritual and loved God and His creation. After his passing, we now have the task of settling his estate. As we walked into his house the first time shortly after his passing, there were two puzzles left in process – it was like he had just gotten up from the tables and you could expect he’d be back to finish them, but these puzzles will indeed not be finished. As I have reflected on his life and his death, the unfinished puzzles made me think about how our lives can also be unfinished in ways. Sometimes people leave things unsaid, relationships damaged or things undone in this life. Thankfully, my father-in-law didn’t seem to leave much undone (except the puzzles). He said his last good-byes to those he loved, people who loved him knew he loved them back, his finances and everything else were in order and he knew where he was headed for eternity.
This phase of life and my father-in-law’s passing make me reflect on what I might have unfinished, unsaid or undone and how I want to make sure I finish well. I’m not one who does many puzzles so I probably won’t leave any puzzle unfinished. I’ll keep working on being a positive impact on those around me, leave things better than when I found them and grow in my relationship with God. We don’t know how or when our life on earth will end, but we can know what comes next! My prayer is to be able to finish well and keep this eternal hope for what comes next. Thankfully, what comes next isn’t dependent on me finishing well – Jesus already did the work. At the same time, I’d love to be able to look back on life and say it was a life well lived and that I left people and things better than I found them. By God’s grace and with my intentionality, I pray that can happen.