If you’ve been to a retreat at Sonrise, you have spent time thinking about “the rocking chair” and what will be most important to you at the end of your life. Many of us want to be able to say we learned God’s Word together as a family. But for virtually every family, the hard part is finding time and a good resource for family Bible study/devotionals.
One step to consider: pick one book of the Bible; read and discuss one verse each night as a family. You can follow this pattern:
Review the previous verse
Read that day’s verse
Discuss the meaning
Apply it to your life (each person or as a family)
Acquiring a study Bible or a good commentary that has useful background information can be helpful for certain passages. Asking questions (Who remembers last night’s verse? / How does that apply to your life?) works well. No rocket science here; no Ph.D. required.
Before you take this step: Husband and wife must be in agreement to institute anything that is an everyday thing. Making time for this has to be “on the calendar” for both Mom and Dad and will initially take some adjustments. The best option for most families is right before bedtime or right after dinner. This practice can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes.
Pray and ask the Lord to help you take this step. Some of our most treasured (and funny) times come as we try to understand and apply God’s Word as a family. For most families, this is a very practical choice that will lead them one step closer to where they want to be when they reach the rocking chair.
Watching the medal ceremony during the Olympics regularly brings people to tears. Why is this? Maybe we realize how much time and effort was necessary to win those medals. Maybe we recognize the sacrifices made to achieve that level of performance. Or maybe it’s because the medal winner represents not just an individual, but millions of people. Regardless, when you look around the room at people watching one of their countrymen sing the national anthem with a gold medal on their chest, you can expect to see some emotion.
While very few will receive the Olympic gold here on earth, we are all invited to an even more meaningful medal ceremony – one where the prize remains forever. Paul raises the curtain on this ceremony in his message to the believers in Thessalonica:
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
– 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Through Paul, God allows us to see what the gold medals will be handed out for at the end of our lives.
Notice what will not be our crown and our joy in the presence of the Lord. We see no mention of first-place ribbons, a beautiful house, making executive vice-president, or exotic vacations. These are not evil; they just won’t matter in the end. What will be our crown and our joy, our hope and our glory before the Lord? PEOPLE – the lives we have invested in with God’s love and truth. It begins with our spouses and children, and extends to co-workers, friends and family, and others with whom God provides opportunities to spend time. These are the medals that will last forever. May God give us the vision, discipline, and courage to pursue the things that will be our crown and joy for all eternity. May we run after gold medals that last.
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An hourglass is one of the most captivating gadgets. It gives us a picture of something that is constant, intangible, and unstoppable. Each grain of sand passes,from the upper to lower chamber signifying the passage oftime. The hourglass captures the truth that our time left on this earth is continually decreasing.
We all have an unseen hourglass representing our life. On the day our life began, the upper chamber was full of countless grains of sand and the lower chamber was empty. As you read these words, there is some sand left in the upper chamber but much is already resting on the bottom. Only God knows how many grains of sand are left.
In everyday life, most of us have difficulty keeping the hourglass in mind. We feel like there will be an unending supply of sand. There is a sense that we can focus on paying the bills and being successful now and concentrate on growing relationships with loved ones and serving the Lord later. What if the one who comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” is the source of the lie that there will always be a next time? What if this is part of a plan to keep us from ever getting around to the things that matter most?
We have a family friend who works as a nurse in an oncology ward and regularly spends time with those who are terminally ill. While she was on retreat at Sonrise she remarked, “This is what people say when they know they don’t have much time left. They tell me to spend time with my family, cherish my kids, and love my husband. They know what matters so they tell me how I should live.” These patients see the upper chamber of their hourglass is almost empty. They have a firm grasp on the fact that each person’s time is limited and precious.
Psalm 139:16 declares: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God has given us a set number of days to live. We have one set of opportunities and choices. Some have passed us by and some are still before us. We can invest our time in loving God, cherishing our families, and seeking first His Kingdom… or we can get around to that later. How will you invest the time you have been given? The sand is falling.
Do you not say,
‘Four months more and then the harvest’?
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!
They are ripe for harvest.
Even now the reaper draws his wages,
even now he harvests the crop for eternal life.
( John 4:35-36)
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