‘What am I here for and what happens next?’
An orange plastic band was tied around the trunk of the tree. It really caught my eye because the early morning sun light was hitting the trunk. There are three or four trees in our housing community with those bands on them. They have been ear marked for cutting down. One can see why, there are hardly any leaves on them and they have fallen branches around them. Even so, they will be missed. Fortunately, our community is mindful to replace old trees with saplings.
We all have known since childhood that life is temporary and part of nature’s cycles; birth, life, death, birth and the cycle continues repeating with different hosts. Sometimes it takes an ugly orange band, to remind me, I cannot assume I know how much longer ‘my earth cycle’ is going to run. You see, I am pretty comfortable thinking, if I eat well, exercise well and be a good person, all will be well. But there has to be more to ‘this life cycle’, which we have been GIVEN, than doing it ‘well’ or for some, just surviving endless hardships.
Of course, I am asking those fundamental questions which all generations have done before me. What am I here for and what happens after this?
Recently, I officiated a memorial service for a nurse who had died with Covid, the second from that hospital in a month. The nurses have been living for nearly two years now under such pressure from Covid, working long hours in very stressful situations and limited staff. I was asked to keep the memorial service to less than fifteen minutes, because the nurses’ hands were needed working the wards. It was held outside on a very hot Florida afternoon and probably twenty nurses came. There was closure; a rose bush was planted, but I have to admit I left after all was done, heavy hearted because no one could tell me of that nurses’ spiritual life, no one.
So many of us are so absorbed in the activities of life, in the this case working long hours, that we don’t always get to really answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’
For me, the most important part of that question is, ‘what happens next?’ I know in my heart, without a doubt, the truth of the words, Romans 10:13, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Because I can stand on that knowledge, then I can answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’
But, that is my choice.
Everyone needs to choose for themselves their spiritual life and destination. My plea would be, be sure you have answered those questions, before the tree crews come by with their chain saws buzzing. The freedom God has given us to choose in our lives, has responsibilities too. In this case, the decisions and choices we live by, are between ourselves and God, only. There is no other party, not a family member, a spouse, a parent, a political affiliation, our choice on vaccines, masks, our belief in climate change actions, not even the government, we can blame. This is just between me and God.
But God does not want us to answer these questions in a cold hearted clinical way. He is a God of love and his desire is to be in relationship with us, which activates love, lives love.
So I want to share a wedding I officiated between a bride of 84 and groom of 98, this last weekend. This was an affirmation of their love for each other, being placed before God, in a humble way. They just wanted the chance to affirm what God had already been doing in their lives; activating love and living lives of love.
So of course we read, 1 Corinthians 13, which ends so beautifully, ‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ That is a rock I choose to remember.
Christine just finished teaching a four day online icon painting retreat. She has a large following of people all over the world now, who are dedicated to praying, painting, and walking closer to God through their visual prayers. We are so grateful for how God is working in our lives. Thank you all for your prayers, they make a BIG DIFFERENCE!
We pray for you too, and send our very best love,
Michael and Christine Hales