There is a difference in the sunrise and a sunset. It could be as simple as knowing which side of the Sun you are standing on. Is it moving toward you, or is it moving away? The old saying goes “it’s always darkest just before the dawn”, but you have to realize that sometimes the dark can last for hours.
Sometimes hours can feel like days.
Sometimes days can feel like years.
May I suggest something here? Like the differences in a sunrise and a sunset, there is a difference in a response versus an answer. Like the rising and setting of the daily sun, a response to anything is a given. An answer is not.
One can respond without answering. One cannot answer without responding.
Which brings me back to my original story. It was the dawning of a new era. The year was 2000, and the 21st century was just beginning. There was talk of so much promise: world peace, a growing economic prosperity that seemingly could not be derailed, and the world becoming a brighter place. Another old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The inhabitants of the newly minted 21st century quickly learned that, with wars, and recessions, and all the darkness that often comes with such storms.
But, on a personal level, that one day was almost perfect. It was the summer of 2000, and our family was together on a private ranch celebrating the 40th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They day had begun early, and had included feeding buffalo, enjoying beautiful weather, and being together over good food and even better stories. As the day drew near to a close, a gentle breeze was blowing, my young kids were running barefoot through nearly perfect blades of thick grass, and there was laughter and joy. It is one of those moments that I knew right there and then that I would always recall. I can close my eyes and almost feel the moment even today. It almost felt like heaven, and yet it wasn’t.
When I announced it was time to go inside, I did not get an answer. When I called out again, the response included tears, even wailing. You see, she just did not want that day to end. I can’t say that I blamed her, but it could not be helped.
Life can be like that. Things feel like they are going really, really beautifully until they can’t any longer, and you are left to wonder why. The difference for us all, I would suggest, is do we simply respond, or do we answer the call that is within each moment?
Biblical history is full of prime examples.
Abraham and Sarah.
Even Jesus, himself, took on our position in this world.
In each of these examples, life was happening. There was beauty, and there was pain. There were victories, and there were defeats. Hebrews chapter 11 has all kinds of things to say about those stories, and more, and God’s ultimate promises not yet being fulfilled.
In each of those examples, there was also a calling. You see, one difference in a response versus an answer is intentionality. Intentionality, following a recognition of who we are called to be while we are here.
Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. Psalm 107:43
A person responds to every situation they are presented in life. A response can be passive. A response can be negative. A response can be “no”. A response can be angry.
Responses can be good, as well. So can answers. Answering a calling, to be more specific.
Abraham and Sarah were childless, for a time. They were called to pick up and move away from the land of their forefathers. They saw their nephew make countless bad decisions. They saw their neighbors be destroyed. They had internal family struggles. And yet, they responded with answers. They responded with faithfulness.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7
The same examples could be played out with Moses, and Gideon, and Ruth, and countless other examples. For each of them, life was happening. There was joy, and there was pain. There was accomplishment, often followed by hardship.
In the middle of it all, each had a calling to answer. I would suggest the same is true in our lives.
2014 has been the ending of an era, of sorts. More importantly, in these moments, it has included the dawning of a really great day.
As those moments have come, there has been little time for crying.
There has been change. There has been joy, and there has been pain. There has been sunrise, and there has been sunset.
The Thanksgiving and follow up holiday seasons of Christmas and New Years are now upon us. I went to sleep reflecting on these thoughts in the early hours of this morning after unintentionally finding myself watching the movie “Heaven Is For Real” just before going to bed. I woke up with these thoughts and the accompanying scriptures mentioned here courtesy of the little phone app that dubs itself as “Timehop”, and here I find myself today.
My father and I sat alone together in the darkness before the dawn this past New Year’s Eve. We talked about life. We talked about change. Without going so far as to say it out loud, we both knew the year we were about to share in the beginning was one that we would not finish together at its end.
2014 has indeed been one of those years, and then some. In the middle of it all, there have been calls to answer. Some have been easy, some have been hard, but the calling imbedded within it all has been undeniable.
Without a doubt, we are responding. To do otherwise would be impossible. But are we answering? Am I? Are you?
More importantly, how are we answering?
The old saying goes “it’s always darkest just before the dawn”, but you have to realize that sometimes the dark can only last for the amount of time you provide it with.
Sometimes years can feel like days.
Sometimes days can feel like hours.
There is a difference in the sunrise and a sunset. It could be as simple as knowing which side of the Son you are standing on. Are you moving toward Him, or are you moving away?