When nothing lasts long enough
God’s cosmic winks inspire us to long for more
I like it when nobody’s home when I’m writing because I can play the same song over and over and over and no one is bothered. Type a few sentences, swipe the cursor left. Type a few more sentences, swipe the cursor left.
While weeding at church, I played Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” all morning, interspersed with “Oye Como Va” (Santana), “O Happy Day” (Edwin Hawkins Singers), and “Rhapsody in Blue” with Adrian Brendle soloing on the piano. It’s very annoying that I can’t get the original expansive version of Williams’ guitar piece and that some philistine with no regard for emotions thought he could abridge it without doing it violence.
Nothing lasts long enough.
Morning, for one, doesn’t last long enough. It’s the best time of day but seems like no sooner have I poured my coffee than the brand-new-possibilities sun on the rim of the eastern sky is muscled out by the I-mean-business sun overhead, and we’re off and running on the treadmill.
I wait all year for the purple wisteria across the street from Daryl’s Pastries to return, the way it cascades over the fence like a bacchanalian feast in the gardens of Babylon. And then it lasts, what, two weeks? Do you realize how many times you have actually looked at luscious lollipop-red tulips in your lifetime? If you’re my age, maybe a couple hundred measly days out of … 25,670?
Summer doesn’t last long enough (although, better in Pennsylvania than Canada where, as they say, there are two seasons—winter and July).
The thrill of nature doesn’t last long enough. C.S. Lewis notes, “Nature ‘dies’ on those who try to live for a love of nature. Coleridge ended by being insensible to her; Wordsworth, by lamenting that the glory had passed away. Say your prayers in a garden early, … and you will come away overwhelmed by its freshness and joy; go there in order to be overwhelmed and, after a certain age, nine times out of ten nothing will happen to you” (The Four Loves).
The futility of trying to hold onto what refuses to be held was expressed in a letter I received from a Texas inmate describing his conversion. He wrote, “I never found true happiness no not in many different drugs, drinks, sex, nothing could stay long enough. I always kept trying until I gave Christ my heart.”
It was profound. The main problem with this present existence is that its pleasures are evanescent, and we spend our lives trying to recapture them. In vain. “I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. … I also gathered for myself silver and gold. … I got singers … and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. … All was vanity and a striving after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11).
I think God does it on purpose—the futility of grasping morning, wisteria, or a thrill from nature. These are the wink, the tease, by which He plants an ache that only heaven’s joys can quell. Who would care for heaven otherwise?
Love, we’re told, does last. And all that’s done in love (1 Corinthians 13:8).
The character we choose to build will last, and this fourscore sliver of eternity is our sole chance to do that in. Some will enter heaven safe but singed, with hay and stubble drawn behind (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Others, bringing gold, will reap rewards and crowns and heavenly adventures that no eye has seen, ear heard, nor any heart of man imagined (Matthew 25:14ff; 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 2:26).
“Only one life, yes only one, / Soon will its fleeting hours be done; / Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, / And stand before His Judgment seat; / Only one life, ’twill soon be past, / Only what’s done for Christ will last” (C.T. Studd).
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