Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

“Remember Your Creator”

Categories: Iron sharpens iron

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. (Luke 2.36-37)

In the year of our Lord 2022, the River Ridge congregation is made up primarily of young families with small children.  This being the case, it should be no surprise that this period on the calendar—late spring and early summer—each year is subject to the same sort of competition for a slot on the schedule as has been common to parents broadly for a very long time. As the school year ends, and the short summer break ensues, schedules and routines are upended in favor of more unusual and, perhaps, more frivolous uses of time.  Vacations, play dates, alterations to work schedules, and other impositions are suddenly the focus of attention for many parents. In all the hustle and bustle, in all the concerted attempts to make the best possible use of the relatively short stint of relaxed expectations and demands from the more structured institutions of school, where does God fit on your calendar?

We find an excellent example to follow in the Old Testament prophet, Daniel.  When his fellow officials of the kingdom of Babylon colluded in order to deliberately discredit Daniel in the king’s eyes, they agreed:

“We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6.5)

Thereupon, they decided to convince King Darius to outlaw prayer, except for prayers directed toward the king himself, for a period of thirty days.  Clearly, this goes far beyond the sorts of scheduling conflicts we encounter—in our case, it’s the desire to spend our time on things that may distract us from serving God; Daniel had the prospect of being torn limb from limb and eaten alive in a den of lions, to discourage him from spending his time on prayer to God.  What was his response?

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Daniel 6.10)

Daniel remembered what was really important, regardless of the distractions that were presented to him.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12.1-7)

It’s good to recognize that these are wise words, but consider, for a moment—why should we remember our Creator in the days of our youth?  In all this long, plodding, poetic, image-rich sentence, has Solomon clearly stated the reason we should do this?  No, not really; instead, he went on at length about the evils of age, using some of the most vivid metaphors found in the whole Bible to make his point.  But the answer isn’t so far out of sight.  The point is that all of these imminent weaknesses, struggles, and pains will make it harder to serve God in old age, than it was during youth.

It’s easy to tell ourselves, “I just don’t have time!  When things settle down, then I’ll start devoting more of my time and effort to the Lord and his church.”  This is a farce.  In the first place, that period of time that we always expect to see, just around corner, seems at each new turn to be just as far away as it was at the last.  As children grow older and move out, and as parents become what our culture terms “empty-nesters,” up pops some new and apparently pressing need, and suddenly your schedule is full again—perhaps this time with slightly less noble pursuits than the task of raising up children.  And the same refrain is heard again: “I just don’t have time!  When things settle down…”

Even ignoring that—even, let’s say, in the cases of those who really do fill their newly open schedules with the pursuit of serving God and working in the Lord’s vineyard, like the old, widowed prophetess Anna in the  first passage quoted above—if we haven’t focused on God when we were busier, then what habit have our children learned, through all those many years when Dad and Mom “didn’t have time” for spiritual endeavors?  Making the effort matters more when it’s inconvenient.  What do you have to do at any given moment, that’s more important than worshiping God, keeping his commandments, and teaching the next generation to do the same?  The point of life on earth is to come to know God, serve him, and pursue the continuation of a relationship with him after death.  Don’t plan to serve him later—give yourself to his service, today!