Try this. Give a child several directions to do. A list of tasks that may or may not be related. What will get done? Most likely what came first and what came last. Ask a teacher or a mom of toddlers. First and last heard are best remembered.
And God knows this better than anyone.
For example, most everybody recognizes this:
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
When Solomon wrote those poetic words, I believe he was divinely inspired to make sure we would remember what’s most important.
What came first:
Everyone has a birthday. Yey!!!
No matter what you do, you’re gonna die, just like everybody else.
…and what came last:
A time for war.
A time for peace.
PEACE. Who doesn’t remember the last word in the list?
So let’s talk about peace. Or its absence. Anybody else feeling ill at ease?
We all face times of conflict and decisions in different ways. Some write and speak out. Some make choices behind closed doors. Some are mean-spirited. Some welcome honest dialogue. Some feel compelled to shout down anyone who disagrees. Some smirk. Some cry. Some are concerned about the welfare of their loved ones and country. Some care more about themselves and what they value than anyone or anything else.
And some of these ways hurt. They divide, and not in a good way. It’s not that being divided is in and of itself bad. It’s just that if we dig a chasm so deep and wide that it can’t be crossed, well, it won’t be crossed. We won’t have a conversation – we’ll have an argument. It won’t be my ideas compared to yours… it will be my ideas at the expense of yours. Or vice versa.
I cast no aspersions on those who feel strongly about any of the issues at hand, whether religious or political. I heartily disagree with some positions and I am solidly behind others. And I’m still on the fence about the rest.
I’m an ordinary American girl. I’ve not lived anyone else’s life and I never will. But I’ve lived my own. And there are a few things I know for sure.
I know that God loves each and every one of us exactly the same. He always has and He always will.
I’m repeating that on purpose. God loves us all. He died and rose again to redeem us all. Everybody has the same chance for mercy, grace, forgiveness, and redemption.
Good golly, Miss Molly. Think about that. E.v.e.r.y.b.o.d.y.
I don’t get to decide what His plan is for me, or you, or our country, or this world. I don’t decide, I can’t predict.
I do, however, know that I was born and I will die, just like everybody else. And I’m as sure as I can be what He told Solomon (paraphrased a bit):
Okay, now write all that down. But be sure the last word is peace. Maybe that will help them remember.
And, Solomon, here’s a little sneak peek. In a future time and place you can’t imagine, I’m going to give these same words to a folk band called The Byrds. And I’m going to give them the same instructions about the word peace. Trust me, it’ll be great. And let’s hope between your poem and their song some people will get the message. Carry on.
Yeah, like He said. We’re all gonna live – we’re all gonna die. How about we fill that space in between practicing a little more of what we should remember first – and last: peace.