As we come to the end of the year, I would like to talk a little about the ending of things in our lives. So, I will compare our lives to a book; a novel, to be exact. As we all know that a novel has a beginning and an end so, we too, have a beginning and an ending. Filling the pages in between the covers are the days of our lives. In these pages are the chapters, or periods, in our lives. Periods not as in birth to adolescence, but chapters as in: “My First Day at School,” “The Day We Were Forgotten at School,” or, “The Reason I Chose Baptism.” These are the chapters of our lives. These are the important points that forged who we are today. The thing is that each of these chapters in our lives has a final page too. The day they come to an end we embark upon a new chapter. Many people are fearful of the chapter coming to its end and the new chapter beginning in their life. We need to overcome this fear, and accept the new chapter and all that comes with it. As with a good novel each new chapter tells us something new in the story, each chapter brings the possibility of new characters into the story and, most importantly, each new chapter gives opportunity to learn new lessons or skills. We can look at a few examples of new chapters opening up to people in history…
Our first example takes place in the most peaceful place and time in all history, a time and place of complete perfection. In this time and place a man walked with God among all of creation without fear or pain. This chapter of his life was full of naming the creation, going from place to place daily with the Creator. Yet there was something more he desired, and that chapter came to a close. The new chapter opens with a new and marvelous creation; a woman was created to be a companion throughout the rest of the story. Their time together is a marvelous thing as with all of creation; a male and a female as one, yet even this glorious period must come to an end. A new chapter opens up, “Choosing Death.” This chapter is a painful one, a chapter with sin and chastisement, one which will be remembered throughout all time as, “The Fall of Man”. Yet even in this horrible period of pain and change, what man or woman since then can say they have felt pain as did these two? For their change was from one of perfection and complete presence with God, and in a moment they were cut off and cast out of His presence. Yet even after this great pain that chapter of their life was a learning experience for them and all mankind if we but take heed. As this chapter came to its end a new one began, and children came into the world; a son was born from this union, a promise of even a new chapter in the future. Thus, the story continues chapter upon chapter.
Many times I have heard people say that they do not know how to continue on in life… they feel as if their book has come to its end because some great change came upon them unannounced. I say, get ready for the opening of that new chapter; if you quit between the ending and beginning of the next chapter, how will you find out what happens next? As with reading a novel, if you stop in the middle then you will not find out how the main characters overcome their problems. This is the same in your life; you must continue forward opening up that new chapter to see how you will overcome the problems in your life.
Let us take another example from history… A young man was blessed by God with dreams and visions. His older brothers did not appreciate that the younger brother was given this gift. Whether they were envious of the gift or not, they for sure were envious of the love their father gave to this young man. Their envy grew until they could no longer control it. At the ending of this chapter the older brothers sold this young man into slavery and lied to their father, saying that he was dead. This young man worked in slavery and was proven trustworthy. Then that chapter came to an end by him being falsely accused and sentenced to prison. The young man confronted his new life in prison by embracing it; working hard, he gained the trust of the jailer. This chapter also had an end when he went before the king. Each chapter prepared this young man for the next part of his life, until finally it all came full circle and his brothers bowed before him, seeking food for their hungry families. What would have happened if this young man had given up at any point in these apparently horrible sequence of events?
I could go on with multiple examples in history, yet I feel I have made my point with these. The question now comes back to YOU… In your life, has a chapter come to an end and you got stuck without continuing into the next? Did the fear overcome you? Remember Adam being removed from the garden of Eden; was he fearful? I say yes! His change was from never planting or worrying about food to that being a necessity. He went from never being sick to getting sick and not being able to work. He went from everything being provided to nothing being provided. Worst of all, he went from walking daily with God to an everlasting separation, with only the hope that Christ would bridge the gulf he created.
Are you in emotional pain from the closing of the last chapter in your life? Remember Joseph being sold as a slave by his brothers? I cannot even imagine the emotional pain of a betrayal like that. The ones who should protect you are the ones that do one of the worst things imaginable to you. Yet when they bowed before him his response was one of great joy. Can you even imagine how great that next chapter in their lives would be because he was willing to forgive and forget? Many times in our lives the ending of one chapter helps determine the beginning of the next.
As we come to the end of this year, I would ask that we not think on the ending of things, but the beginning of new chapters; the joys we may find in them, the people we may meet in our walk of life, the challenges that wait in our path to strengthen us, the bruises and pains that are sure to come to test our resolve and, most importantly, the fruit that you will be given the opportunity to bear for our eternal Lord, blessed be His name.
And we will nourish again the trees of the vineyard, and we will trim up the branches thereof; and we will pluck from the trees those branches which are ripened that must perish, and cast them into the fire. And this I do, that perhaps the roots thereof may take strength, because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil; And because that I have preserved the natural branches, and the roots thereof; and that I have grafted in the natural branches again, into their mother tree; and have preserved the roots of their mother tree, that perhaps the trees of my vineyard may bring forth again good fruit; And that I may have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard; and perhaps that I may rejoice exceedingly, that I have preserved the roots and the branches of the first fruit.
This passage talks about different chapters that are about to, if not already happening. These chapters are truly exciting to me. They tell of a cleansing to take place, which can be hard and even painful. Yet, the purpose of this cleansing is to give the option and opportunity to create fruit or joy for our Creator.
For behold, for a long time will I lay up of the fruit of my vineyard unto mine own self, against the season, which speedily cometh;
This last verse telling us that this chapter will be a long one filled with much fruit or joy…
I do not intend to demean anyone’s pain or suffering which they might be going through. My hope is that we keep our eyes on the following chapters, knowing that the pain of this world is passing,
but the joy in the following world is never-ending. If you find yourself stuck in your life and you know not how to move into the next chapter, ask for help. Anyone around you knows how hard life can be. They may not know exactly what you are going through but they can help you move on. It is part of the calling of all brothers and sisters to bear one another’s burdens.
Let us pray that this new year is a beginning of a wonderful chapter in history. But, in order for this to be true for you and for me, we need to end this year on a good note!
And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls: …