Jump Start # 2612
Ecclesiastes 3:6 “A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.”
We had a strange Saturday recently. We didn’t have any kids or grandkids visiting. We weren’t going any where ourselves, so we decided to do some serious cleaning. The garage got a polishing like it never had before. Things put up, put away and tossed. We came across a large tub of our beginnings. High school year books. Our baby books. Love letters. Grade school report cards. Graduation diplomas. Lots of pictures. Old letters. Scrapbooks. Even a guest book that people signed when we lived in our first house. Things at one time that were important to each of us. We kept those things through all these years. We haven’t really looked at these things since the last time we moved. Stuck away a long time ago, forgotten and now beginning to show age and smell, these treasures of the past took us down memory lane. The yearbooks were filled were signatures of people we don’t remember any longer. And, before us was the challenge of what to do with all this stuff. Put a lid on the tub and just stick it away? Someday, the kids will have to deal with these things and it doesn’t mean much to them. Or, go through them and toss what we can.
Solomon’s verse rings so true. There is a time to keep and a time to throw away. It’s hard to know when those times are. Pages turn in the book of life. A person moves on. New places. New people. New adventures. Often the old pictures are of a person who has long since changed. Not the same person as in high school. Not the same person as in college. What helps in all of this is having gone through this with another person. A while back I helped empty a house that belonged to someone in their 90’s. It held a lifetime of papers, memories and stuff. What to keep and what to toss?
First, there have been many people in our lives. It’s amazing to flip through an old year book and see what people wrote and to look at the faces again. There were teachers, many just crossed paths with us for one year. As I looked at some of those old report cards from grade school, it made me wonder how many of my teachers were still alive. I never saw them again. Some people are like that in our lives. But, later, looking at that guest book of folks that came into our first home, those names are dear to us. Most were brethren in the first church I preached at. They encouraged. They were friends. They helped. They gave me a chance. We all have people like that. There are people that we shall never forget.
Second, life brings tragedy at times. Going through my high school year book, a couple of newspaper clippings fell out. One told the sad story of a classmate that was tried for murder. He never finished school. Another, one I knew, was killed in a fiery car accident at the age of 30. He was being chased by the police and he ran into the backend of a semi on the highway. What has shaped us are the choices that we have made and the influences in our lives. Wrong choices and the wrong people often do not end well. Not everyone lives happily ever after. The tears of sorrow are well known in many homes. God is the difference in all of these things.
Third, as I turned those pages of those grade school and high school year books, and saw names that I had forgotten about, I read what people thought about me. That’s humbling. You hope as an adult that you were not too much of a idiot as a kid. One wrote in my high school year book that I had changed his life. I do not remember that. He said that he would never forget me. I wonder if he has. I have not heard of him since high school. We are all leaving impressions. Sometimes we can be in such a hurry that we do not give a person the proper time that he needs. It is fascinating to see how many times the Lord was interrupted. How many times people needed Him, wanted Him, and asked Him to go with them. People were the Lord’s agenda. Sometimes we can be so busy with self that we forget about that.
Finally, if the Lord allows this ole’ planet to continue on, some will look back and remember us years from now. We may have left this place, but our names will bring back a memory to them. For those of us that preach, some little one out there will remember us as the first preacher they ever knew. That’s important.
One of my early teachers said I needed some work in handwriting. I guess I never got that. There are some days I will look at a note I wrote earlier, and even I can’t figure it out. That’s not good. Barbara Streisand sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Actually, we all need people. We need good, quality people in our lives. We need the people the that will make a difference in our lives. And, we need to become that kind of person for others.
There comes a time to move on. There comes a time to throw away things. One more look. One more journey down memory lane. Thoughts about where are these folks today? Thoughts about I wonder how many will make it to Heaven?