This weeks thought comes from Peter Bellingham, a friend who now resides in England. I made Peter's acqaintance in Tegucigalpa where he was a fellow missionary/church planter. Like me, Peter and his family have returned to their native country where they work with a ministry called "The Well."
I received the following letter from him last week and asked if I might share it with all of you, since I thought his perspective on life's experiences was very encouraging and helpful. He said that would be fine.
If you are interested in checking out Peter's work there in England, or the continuation of the work he started in Honduras, simply follow the attached links: England - www.wellministries.co.uk
But time moves on and I have to leave that landscape and return to the office. A song may cause my soul to soar for a time, but I know the time will pass. The best of friendships are marked by periods of separation - indeed separation is one of the most solid realities of this life. Deep down I know that the flower will always fade - the dried roses hanging on the wall have their own beauty - but it is a faded colour and an echo of the life they once exuded.
This anticipated loss can inspire "carpe diem" - the yearning to seize the moment; to make the most of every sound, sight and sense, knowing that it will pass. This may seem like a healthy approach to life; but it is born from that subtle sadness evoked by our fallen world, where, in the words of an ancient song, "change and decay, in all around I see."
But there is another way. I am a Christian. Every good and perfect gift comes down from heaven, from the Father of lights who does not change like the shifting shadows. He has placed me, for now, in an incredible world which is filled with His glory - be it in landscapes, in music, in relationships. If my eyes are open and my heart is grateful, as I move on from one experience of His wonder, another is always waiting for me. And far from canceling out the beauty of the journey so far, each new experience of His glory builds on what has come before, like a symphony rising to a crescendo of majesty and praise.
So as I stand for a moment drinking in that landscape, I can enjoy it for what it is, with an untainted pleasure. I don't need to try to capture it and possess it in order to avoid that inevitable loss. I can let it refresh my soul, whether for five seconds or five hours, and return to my office confident that He always has something else in store for me. I can let my soul soar with a song - let it touch me and inspire me and enliven me - and then move on, my enjoyment unmarred by my inability to engrave it on my heart. I can savor the wine of friendship, feel the very human pain of separation, but rest and rejoice in the secure knowledge that salvation has graced us with an eternity to cultivate those friendships in Him which have only begun here on earth.
So by knowing Him, I see His glory - who He is - in every good and perfect gift He gives. I can hold lightly to my experience of those gifts, because I know He will keep on giving. And so to the irony of this better way - I can seize the moment even more thoroughly, precisely because I am not afraid of what will happen when, inevitably, it slips away. "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God" (1 Cor 3:21-23).
Because He is the Author, because He will keep on writing, and because the Book of His glory is one He has chosen us to eternally enjoy, we can rest, we can trust, we can enjoy. Really, what He keeps on giving us in all this is Himself. Of Him, and of His self-giving love, there is no end. May God encourage you with this as He has encouraged me."