“Each succeeding generation, at thy mighty word appears;
Thou dost count in times duration, one day as a thousand years.
Death with swift and sudden warning, calls us from life’s dream away.
Like the grass green in the morning, withered ere the close of day.”
Such is the reality of human existence. Is it not difficult to live at all times in the light of this reality? Especially we young people so easily forget this theme. Hence it is good for us to contemplate concerning the use of our short lives for God.
For what do you live? Perhaps you have a job and every day you trudge the same path to work, punch a clock, perform your task, and say, “good deal, another day in, and a whole evening ahead.” Maybe you go to work cheerfully and work diligently and are content with your work, but not overly enthused, or are you the person who feels that you have a vocation which you sincerely love and you earnestly seek to develop yourself in that particular field? Your goals are ever higher and daily you apply yourself to your task and work for promotion. We ask you, for what is all this exertion of energy and consumption of time? Why don’t you live as the whiskered hobo over by the tracks?
Some of us may reply, “Everybody works, and if you don’t work you are considered lazy.” Others may say that you want to earn money, perhaps for a new car, or that certain suit you saw in the store window, or perhaps you want to save money and get married or build up a reserve for a “rainy day.” Many of the conveniences of our modern twentieth century living have their place in our lives. Our daily labor has its place also, and therefore since life is so short we must necessarily clearly understand why we perform our daily task in the manner in which we do.
If you should answer our proposed question in any of the suggested ways, you had better think again and investigate whether that basically is your answer. We must as Christians, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, propose a unique and radically different answer. We must feel within our hearts that we are called of God to our specific job. You may say, “Oh yes, that’s taken for granted,” but is it? Have you prayed to God about your work when you left the factory and entered the sales profession, or when you left the one garage to work in another. Did you ask God to lead you in your decision? Not only does this hold true for the changing of employment, but also for your present job. Unless you can say that God has called you to tighten the bolts, to sort the mail, to swing the brush, to preach the Word, to teach the children, to wash the dishes or to sell the product you have no business in doing the type of work you are now doing.
There are many things to consider when we select vocations, and our selection will not be correct unless we go beyond our own limited sight unto the All Seeing and Omniscient Heavenly Father. He will help us to choose wisely and with consecrated study of His Word we will feel the necessity of the consideration of our employer, fellow employees, wages, and all that is involved in employment when we seek a job, He will so work within us that our eyes will be fixed on Him and our life will not be our own, but He will live in us. We therefore must not consider the dollar as the standard of our occupation, but we must determine our specific job by higher eternal standards. You can far better work for less money and work among fellow believers than enjoy higher wages and be influenced, perhaps unknowingly, by constant contact with wicked and profane men. Greater blessing is to the man that puts less hours in at work, but faithfully attends divine service and society, and seeks to increase his knowledge of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, than the man who works so many hours a week that he is too tired to drag his legs into a church.
Not only are we to consider our job and vocation in the light of our calling of God, but also our recreation. This is certainly an age when we work less and get more done and have greater leisure time, yet sad to say it often seems the most ignorant. Paradoxical? Yes, but we can very well overcome it. When Robert Maynard Hutshin heard of T.V. he exclaimed, “The jig is up on learning.” Few men actually hear the voices of a great teacher, but his word can be read by all. Even Confucius, pagan and vile, exclaimed, “Learning without thought is labor lost, thought without learning is perilous.” How much more should we as young people, progeny of the heritage of a most certain knowledge, read and study to understand what and why we act and believe as we do. Certainly our spare time will no longer remain spare, but we will eagerly engage ourselves in developing our minds and hearts to the glory of our God for whom alone we live.
So often we hear the truth that the only things of life which are of value are spiritual, and that all of our life must be centered around the things of the kingdom. Our purpose is to reiterate that all things for the Christian are spiritual. Whether at work or during recreation we are spiritual. We never can separate a thing we do from our relation to God. This means that when we are with our friends we conduct ourselves as children of the King. Everywhere we go we must conduct ourselves with the realization that Christ is beside us. We cannot see Him, but he is there and as His children we want to be bearers of the light that is in us. If Christ cannot go with us everywhere we go, we had better question whether he goes with us at all. He is the All Seeing and All Knowing One and we are His Children living to His glory here below. For us who are the called according to his purpose, may God ever impress upon our minds that life is short and that we are to use our few short moments to the glory of His name and the well-being of His Church.
Every day we read of the lives of young and old snatched from them. Some suddenly while others must endure pain for a long duration. All men realize the inevitability of death. Throughout the centuries, men have expressed their philosophy of life. Shakespeare once wrote, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, till the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death . . . life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” Vain and contemptible, we contrast it with a verse of the song, George S. Schuler wrote in memory of John and Bety Stam, martyrs of the faith, “In life or death,—and life is surely flying—the crib and coffin carved from the self-same tree. In life or death—and death so soon is coming—escape, I cannot there’s no place to flee. But thou, Oh God, hast life that is eternal, that life is mine, a gift from thy dear Son. Help me to feel its flush and pulse supernal assurance of the morn when life is done.” May we by God’s grace so live all of our life in the expectation of the joy that awaits us, and may our prayer be that whether in life or in death, for time and for eternity, we are not our own but belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. With His help we shall do valiantly.
Re-published February 2021, Vol 80 No 2